Skip to main content

Full text of "The natural history & antiquities of Selborne in the county of Southampton, by Gilbert White"

See other formats

From the Library 



Library of English Classics 


The Natural History 
Antiquities of Selborne 

in the 

County of Southampton 

By Gilbert White 

" . . . . Ego Apis Matinae 

More modoque 

Grata carpentis .... per laborem 
Plurimum " HOR. 

" Omnia bene describere, quae in hoc mundo, a Deo facta, 
aut Naturae creatae viribus elaborata fuerunt, opus est non 
unius hominis, nee unius aevi. Hinc Faunae et Florae utilis- 
simae ; hinc Moiiographi praestantissimi." 



Macmillan and Co. Limited 

New York : The Macmillan Company 



THE first edition of Gilbert White's The Natural History 
and Antiquities of Selborne was published by his brother's 
firm (B. White & Son) in 1789. It formed a handsome 
quarto, was illustrated with a few engravings of no great 
merit, and sold at a guinea. No other edition was 
published in England in White's lifetime, but in 1795, 
two years after his death, and ere yet his fame had reached 
the point at which it could overawe an editor's judgment 
in selection, Dr. John Aikin extracted from his papers 
the materials for a much smaller volume to which he gave 
the title, A Naturalist's Calendar with Observations in 
various Branches of Natural History by the late Rev. Gilbert 
White. The present edition consists of a faithful reprint 
of these two volumes, and is, as far as the writer can 
ascertain, the first in which they have been thus brought 
together without any addition or diminution. Editorial 
meddling in the case of Gilbert White has taken a strange 
variety of forms he has even suffered the indignity of 
being 'arranged for young persons.' In 1802 an edition 
appeared of his Works in Natural History, the " Antiquities 
of Selborne," the artistic complement of his letters on its 
outdoor life, being omitted, as of too limited an interest to 
appeal to a discriminating public. The few pages thus 
saved were replaced by " a Calendar and Observations by 


THE Author of the following Letters, takes the liberty, 
with all proper deference, of laying before the public his 
idea of -parochial history, which, he thinks, ought to consist 
of natural productions and occurrences as well as an- 
tiquities. He is also of opinion that if stationary men 
would pay some attention to the districts on which they 
reside, and would publish their thoughts respecting the 
objects that surround them, from such materials might be 
drawn the most complete county-histories, which are still 
wanting in several parts of this kingdom, and in particular 
in the county of Southampton. 

And here he seizes the first opportunity, though a late 
one, of returning his most grateful acknowledgments to 
the reverend the President and the reverend and worthy 
the Fellows of Magdalen College in the University of 
Oxford, for their liberal behaviour in permitting their 
archives to be searched by a member of their own society, 
so far as the evidences therein contained might respect the 
parish and priory of Selborne. To that gentleman also, 
and his assistant, whose labours and attention could only 
be equalled by the very kind manner in which they were 
bestowed, many and great obligations are also due. 

Of the authenticity of the documents above-mentioned 
there can be no doubt, since they consist of the identical 
deeds and records that were removed to the College from 
the Priory at the time of its dissolution ; and, being care- 
fully copied on the spot, may be depended on as genuine ; 
and, never having been made public before, may gratify 


the curiosity of the antiquary, as well as establish the 
credit of the history. 

If the writer should at all appear to have induced any of 
his readers to pay a more ready attention to the wonders 
of the Creation, too frequently overlooked as common 
occurrences ; or if he should by any means, through his 
researches, have lent an helping hand towards the enlarge- 
ment of the boundaries of historical and topographical 
knowledge ; or if he should have thrown some small light 
upon ancient customs and manners, and especially on 
those that were monastic, his purpose will be fully 
answered. But if he should not have been successful in 
any of these his intentions, yet there remains this con- 
solation behind that these his pursuits, by keeping the 
body and mind employed, have, under Providence, con- 
tributed to much health and cheerfulness of spirits, even 
to old age : and, what still adds to his happiness, have led 
him to the knowledge of a circle of gentlemen whose 
intelligent communications, as they have afforded him 
much pleasing information, so, could he flatter himself 
with a continuation of them, would they ever be deemed 
a matter of singular satisfaction and improvement. 

SELBORNE, January 1st, 1788. 





THE parish of Selborne lies in the extreme eastern corner 
of the county of Hampshire, bordering on the county of 
Sussex, and not far from the county of Surrey ; is about 
fifty miles south-west of London, in latitude 51, and near 
midway between the towns of Alton and Petersfield. 
Being very large and extensive it abuts on twelve parishes, 
two of which are in Sussex, viz. Trotton and Rogate. If 
you begin from the south and proceed westward the 
adjacent parishes are Emshot, Newton Valence, Faringdon, 
Harteley Mauduit, Great Ward le ham, Kingsley, Hed- 
leigh, Bramshot, Trotton, Rogate, Lysse, and Greatham. 
The soils of this district are almost as various and diversified 
as the views and aspects. The high part to the south-west 
consists of a vast hill of chalk, rising three hundred feet 
above the village ; and is divided into a sheep down, the 
high wood, and a long hanging wood called The Hanger. 
The covert of this eminence is altogether beech, the most 
lovely of all forest trees, whether we consider its smooth 
rind or bark, its glossy foliage, or graceful pendulous 
boughs. The down, or sheep-walk, is a pleasing park-like 
spot, of about one mile by half that space, jutting out on 
the verge of the hill-country, where it begins to break 
down into the plains, and commanding a very engaging 


view, being an assemblage of hill, dale, wood-lands, heath, 
and water. The prospect is bounded to the south-east 
and east by the vast range of mountains called The Sussex 
Downs, by Guild-down near Guildford, and by the Downs 
round Dorking, and Ryegate in Surrey, to the north-east, 
which altogether, with the country beyond Alton and 
Farnham, form a noble and extensive outline. 

At the foot of this hill, one stage or step from the 
uplands, lies the village, which consists of one single 
straggling street, three quarters of a mile in length, in a 
sheltered vale, and running parallel with The Hanger. 
The houses are divided from the hill by a vein of stiff clay 
(good wheat-land), yet stand on a rock of white stone, 
little in appearance removed from chalk ; but seems so far 
from being calcarious, that it endures extreme heat. Yet 
that the freestone still preserves somewhat that is analogous 
to chalk, is plain from the beeches which descend as low as 
those rocks extend, and no farther, and thrive as well on 
them, where the ground is steep, as on the chalks. 

The cart-way of the village divides, in a remarkable 
manner, two very incongruous soils. To the south-west 
is a rank clay, that requires the labour of years to render 
it mellow ; while the gardens to the north-east, and small 
enclosures behind, consist of a warm, forward, crumbling 
mould, called black malm, which seems highly saturated 
with vegetable and animal manure ; and these may perhaps 
have been the original site of the town ; while the wood 
and coverts might extend down to the opposite bank. 

At each end of the village, which runs from south-east 
to north-west, arises a small rivulet : that at the north- 
west end frequently fails : but the other is a fine perennial 
spring little influenced by drought or wet seasons, called 
Well-head. 1 This breaks out of some high grounds join- 
ing to Nore Hill, a noble chalk promontory, remarkable 

1 This spring produced, September 14, 1781, after a severe hot 
summer, and a preceding dry spring and winter, nine gallons of water in 
a minute, which is five hundred and forty in an hour, and twelve 
thousand nine hundred and sixty, or two hundred and sixteen hogsheads, 
in twenty-four hours, or one natural day. At this time many of the 
wells failed, and all the ponds in the vales were dry. 


for sending forth two streams into two different seas. The 
one to the south becomes a branch of the Arun, running 
to Arundel, and so falling into the British channel : the 
other to the north. The Selborne stream makes one 
branch of the Wey ; and meeting the Black-down stream 
at Hedleigh, and the Alton and Farnham stream at 
Tilford-bridge, swells into a considerable river, navigable 
at Godalming ; from whence it passes to Guildford, and so 
into the Thames at Weybridge ; and thus at the Nore into 
the German ocean. 

Our wells, at an average, run to about sixty-three feet, 
and when sunk to that depth seldom fail ; but produce a 
fine limpid water, soft to the taste, and much commended 
by those who drink the pure element, but which does not 
lather well with soap. 

To the north-west, north and east of the village, is a 
range of fair enclosures, consisting of what is called a 
white malm, a sort of rotten or rubble stone, which, when 
turned up to the frost and rain, moulders to pieces, and 
becomes manure to itself. 1 

Still on to the north-east, and a step lower, is a kind of 
white land, neither chalk nor clay, neither fit for pasture 
nor for the plough, yet kindly for hops, which root deep 
into the freestone, and have their poles and wood for char- 
coal growing just at hand. This white soil produces the 
brightest hops. 

As the parish still inclines down towards Wolmer- 
forest, at the juncture of the clays and sand the soil 
becomes a wet, sandy loam, remarkable for timber, and 
infamous for roads. The oaks of Temple and Blackmore 
stand high in the estimation of purveyors, and have 
furnished much naval timber ; while the trees on the free- 
stone grow large, but are what workmen call shakey, and 
so brittle as often to fall to pieces in sawing. Beyond the 
sandy loam the soil becomes an hungry lean sand, till it 
mingles with the forest ; and will produce little without the 
assistance of lime and turnips. 

1 This soil produces good wheat and clover. 




IN the court of Norton farm house, a manor farm to the 
north-west of the village, on the white malms, stood within 
these twenty years a broad-leaved elm, or wych hazel, 
ulmus folio latissimo scabro of Ray, which, though it had lost 
a considerable leading bough in the great storm in the 
year 1703, equal to a moderate tree, yet, when felled, 
contained eight loads of timber ; and, being too bulky 
for a carriage, was sawn off at seven feet above the butt, 
where it measured near eight feet in the diameter. This 
elm I mention to show to what a bulk planted elms may 
attain ; as this tree must certainly have been such from its 

In the centre of the village, and near the church, is a 
square piece of ground surrounded by houses, and vulgarly 
called The Plestor. In the midst of this spot stood, in 
old times, a vast oak, with a short squat body, and huge 
horizontal arms extending almost to the extremity of the 
area. This venerable tree, surrounded with stone steps, 
and seats above them, was the delight of old and young, 
and a place of much resort in summer evenings; where 
the former sat in grave debate, while the latter frolicked 
and danced before them. Long might it have stood, had 
not the amazing tempest in 1703 overturned it at once, 
to the infinite regret of the inhabitants, and the vicar, who 
bestowed several pounds in setting it in its place again : 
but all his care could not avail ; the tree sprouted for a 
time, then withered and died. This oak I mention to 
show to what a bulk planted oaks also may arrive : and 
planted this tree must certainly have been, as will appear 
from what will be said farther concerning this area, when 
we enter on the antiquities of Selborne. 

On the Blackmoor estate there is a small wood called 
Losel's, of a few acres, that was lately furnished with a set of 


oaks of a peculiar growth and great value ; they were tall and 
taper like firs, but standing near together had very small 
heads, only a little brush without any large limbs. About 
twenty years ago the bridge at the Toy, near Hampton 
Court, being much decayed, some trees were wanted for 
the repairs that were fifty feet long without bough, and 
would measure twelve inches diameter at the little end. 
Twenty such trees did a purveyor find in this little wood, 
with this advantage, that many of them answered the 
description at sixty feet. These trees were sold for 
twenty pounds apiece. 

In the centre of this grove there stood an oak, which, 
though shapely and tall on the whole, bulged out into a 
large excrescence about the middle of the stem. On this 
a pair of ravens had fixed their residence for such a series 
of years, that the oak was distinguished by the title of The 
Raven-tree. Many were the attempts of the neighbouring 
youths to get at this eyry: the difficulty whetted their 
inclinations, and each was ambitious of surmounting the 
arduous task. But, when they arrived at the swelling, it 
jutted out so in their way, and was so far beyond their 
grasp, that the most daring lads were awed, and acknow- 
ledged the undertaking to be too hazardous. So the 
ravens built on, nest upon nest, in perfect security, till 
the fatal day arrived in which the wood was to be levelled. 
It was in the month of February, when those birds usually 
sit. The saw was applied to the butt, the wedges were 
inserted into the opening, the woods echoed to the heavy 
blows of the beetle or mallet, the tree nodded to its fall ; 
but still the dam sat on. At last, when it gave way, the 
bird was flung from her nest ; and, though her parental 
affection deserved a better fate, was whipped down by the 
twigs, which brought her dead to the ground. 




THE fossil-shells of this district, and sorts of stone, such 
as have fallen within my observation, must not be passed 
over 1 in silence. And first I must mention, as a great 
curiosity, a specimen that was ploughed up in the chalky 
fields, near the side of the Down, and given to me for the 
singularity of its appearance, which, to an incurious eye, 
seems like a petrified fish of about four inches long, the 
cardo passing for an head and mouth. It is in reality a 
bivalve of the Linnaean Genus of Mytitus, and the species 
of Crista Galli ; called by Lister, Rastellum ; by Rumphius, 
Ostreum plicatum minus ; by D'Argenville, Auris Porci, s. 
Crista Galli, and by those who make collections cock's 
comb. Though I applied to several such in London, I 
never could meet with an entire specimen ; nor could I 
ever find in books any engraving from a perfect one. In 
the superb museum at Leicester-house, permission was 
given me to examine for this article ; and though I was 
disappointed as to the fossil, I was highly gratified with 
the sight of several of the shells themselves in high 
preservation. This bivalve is only known to inhabit the 
Indian ocean, where it fixes itself to a zoophyte, known 
by the name Gorgonia. The curious foldings of the suture 
the one into the other, the alternate flutings or grooves, 
and the curved form of my specimen being much easier 
expressed by the pencil than by words, I have caused it to 
be drawn and engraved. 

Cornua Ammonis are very common about this village. 
As we were cutting an inclining path up The Hanger, the 
labourers found them frequently on that steep, just under 
the soil, in the chalk, and of a considerable size. In the 
lane above Well-head, in the way to Emshot, they abound 
in the bank, in a darkish sort of marl ; and are usually 
very small and soft: but in Clay's Pond, a little farther 


on, at the end of the pit, where the soil is dug out for 
manure, I have occasionally observed them of large 
dimensions, perhaps fourteen or sixteen inches in diameter. 
But as these did not consist of firm stone, but were 
formed of a kind of terra lapidosa, or hardened clay, as 
soon as they were exposed to the rains and frost they 
mouldered away. These seemed as if they were a very 
recent production. In the chalk-pit, at the north-west 
end of The Hanger, large nautili are sometimes observed. 
In the very thickest strata of our freestone, and at 
considerable depths, well-diggers often find large scallops 
or pectines, having both shells deeply striated, and ridged 
and furrowed alternately. They are highly impregnated 
with, if not wholly composed of, the stone of the quarry. 



As in a former letter the freestone of this place has been 
only mentioned incidentally, I shall here become more 

This stone is in great request for hearth-stones and the 
beds of ovens : and in lining of lime-kilns it turns to good 
account ; for the workmen use sandy loam instead of 
mortar ; the sand of which fluxes, 1 and runs by the intense 
heat, and so cases over the whole face of the kiln with a 
strong vitrified coat like glass, that it is well preserved 
from injuries of weather, and endures thirty or forty years. 
When chiseled smooth, it makes elegant fronts for houses, 
equal in colour and grain to the Bath stone ; and superior 
in one respect, that, when seasoned, it does not scale. 
Decent chimney-pieces are worked from it of much closer 

1 There may probably be also in the chalk itself that is burnt for lime 
a proportion of sand: for few chalks are so pure as to have none. 


and finer grain than Portland; and rooms are floored 
with it; but it proves rather too soft for this purpose. It 
is a freestone, cutting in all directions ; yet has something 
of a grain parallel with the horizon, and therefore should 
not be surbedded, but laid in the same position that it 
grows in the quarry. 1 On the ground abroad this fire- 
stone will not succeed for pavements, because, probably, 
some degree of saltness prevailing within it, the rain tears 
the slabs to pieces. 2 Though this stone is too hard to be 
acted on by vinegar ; yet both the white part, and even the 
blue rag, ferments strongly in mineral acids. Though the 
white stone will not bear wet, yet in every quarry at 
intervals there are thin strata of blue rag, which resist rain 
and frost ; and are excellent for pitching of stables, paths 
and courts, and for building of dry walls against banks ; a 
valuable species of fencing, much in use in this village, and 
for mending of roads. This rag is rugged and stubborn, 
and will not hew to a smooth face ; but is very durable : 
yet, as these strata are shallow and lie deep, large quantities 
cannot be procured but at considerable expense. Among 
the blue rags turn up some blocks tinged with a stain of 
yellow or rust colour, which seem to be nearly as lasting as 
the blue ; and every now and then balls of a friable sub- 
stance, like rust of iron, called rust balls. 

In Wolmer Forest I see but one sort of stone, called by 
the workmen sand, or forest-stone. This is generally of 
the colour of rusty iron, and might probably be worked as 
iron ore ; is very hard and heavy, and of a firm, compact 
texture, and composed of a small roundish crystalline 
grit, cemented together by a brown, terrene, ferruginous 
matter ; will not cut without difficulty, nor easily strike 
fire with steel. Being often found in broad flat pieces, it 
makes good pavement for paths about houses, never 

1 To surbcd stone is to set it edgewise, contrary to the posture it had 
in the quarry, says Dr. Plot, Oxfordsh. p. 77. But surbedding does not 
succeed in our dry walls ; neither do we use it so in ovens, though he 
says it is best for Teynton stone. 

2 " Firestone is full of salts, and has no sulphur : must be close grained, 
and have no interstices. Nothing supports fire like salts ; saltstone perishes 
exposed to wet and frost." Plot's Staff, p. 152. 


becoming slippery in frost or rain ; is excellent for dry walls, 
and is sometimes used in buildings. In many parts of that 
waste it lies scattered on the surface of the ground ; but is 
dug on Weaver's Down, a vast hill on the eastern verge of 
that forest, where the pits are shallow, and the stratum 
thin. This stone is imperishable. 

From a notion of rendering their work the more 
elegant, and giving it a finish, masons chip this stone into 
small fragments about the size of the head of a large nail; 
and then stick the pieces into the wet mortar along the 
joints of their freestone walls : this embellishment carries 
an odd appearance, and has occasioned strangers sometimes 
to ask us pleasantly, "whether we fastened our walls 
together with tenpenny nails." 



AMONG the singularities of this place the two rocky hollow 
lanes, the one to Alton, and the other to the forest, deserve 
our attention. These roads, running through the malm 
lands, are, by the traffic of ages, and the fretting of water, 
worn down through the first stratum of our freestone, and 
partly through the second; so that they look more like 
water-courses than roads ; and are bedded with naked rag 
for furlongs together. In many places they are reduced 
sixteen or eighteen feet beneath the level of the fields; and 
after floods, and in frosts, exhibit very grotesque and wild 
appearances, from the tangled roots that are twisted among 
the strata, and from the torrents rushing down their broken 
sides ; and especially when those cascades are frozen into 
icicles, hanging in all the fanciful shapes of frost-work. 
These rugged gloomy scenes affright the ladies when they 
peep down into them from the paths above, and make 
timid horsemen shudder while they ride along them ; but 



delight the naturalist with their various botany, and par- 
ticularly with their curious filices with which they abound. 

The manor of Selborne, was it strictly looked after, with 
all its kindly aspects, and all its sloping coverts, would swarm 
with game; even now hares, partridges, and pheasants 
abound ; and in old days woodcocks were as plentiful. 
There are few quails, because they more affect open fields 
than enclosures ; after harvest some few land-rails are seen. 

The parish of Selborne, by taking in so much of the 
forest, is a vast district. Those who tread the bounds are 
employed part of three days in the business, and are of 
opinion that the outline, in all its curves and indentings, 
does not comprise less than thirty miles. 

The village stands in a sheltered spot, secured by The 
Hanger from the strong westerly winds. The air is soft, 
but rather moist from the effluvia of so many trees ; yet 
perfectly healthy and free from agues. 

The quantity of rain that falls on it is very considerable, 
as may be supposed in so woody and mountainous a dis- 
trict. As my experience in measuring the water is but of 
short date, I am not qualified to give the mean quantity. 1 
I only know that 

From May i, 1779, to t ^ ie enc ^ of the 7 ear there fell 

From Jan. 
From Jan. 
From Jan. 
From Jan. 
From Jan. 
From Jan. 
From Jan. 

1780, to Jan. 
1781, to Jan. 
1782, to Jan. 
1783, to Jan. 
1784, to Jan. 
1785, to Jan. 
1786, to Jan. 



Inch. Hund. 





The village of Selborne, and large hamlet of Oakhanger, 
with the single farms, and many scattered houses along the 

1 A very intelligent gentleman assures me (and he speaks from upwards 
of forty years' experience) that the mean rain of any place cannot be 
ascertained till a person has measured it for a very long period. " If I 
had only measured the rain," says he, " for the four first years, from 1 740 
to 1743, I should have said the mean rain at Lyndon was i6| inch for 
the year ; if from 1740 to 1750, 18^ inches. The mean rain before 
1763 was 20^; from 1763 and since, 25^; from 1770 to 1780, 26. If 
only 1773, 1774 and 1775 had been measured, Lyndon mean rain would 
have been called 3 2 inches." 


verge of the forest, contain upwards of six hundred and 
seventy inhabitants. 1 We abound with poor ; many of 

1 A STATE of the Parish of SELBORNE, taken October 4, 1783. 

The number of tenements or families, 136. 
The number of inhabitants in the street is 313 ) To ^} 6 J 6 ; near 

In the rest of the parish 363 f inhabitants to each 

* * J| tenement. 

In the time of the Rev. Gilbert White, vicar, who died in 1727-8, the 
number of inhabitants was computed at about 500. 

Average of baptisms for 60 years. 
From 1720 to 1729, both years inclusive < ^ a es , ^ \ 12,9 





both years inclusive 









1 740 to 



( Males Q.2 | 
j / 
( Females 6,6 J 



1750 to 



1 Males 7,6 









I" 8 " 











I 779, 


f Males 10,5 
\ Females 9,8 




Total of baptisms of Males 

515 log 


465 I 9 * 


Total of baptisms from 1720 to 1779, both inclusive . . 

60 years . . 


Average of burials for 60 






both years inclusive < 





} 9,9 





both years inclusive 




















I 759 























J 779> 







1 1 


Total of burials of Males 


Total of burials from 1720 to 1779, both inclusive . . 60 years . . 640. 

Baptisms exceed burials by more than one third. 

Baptisms of Males exceed Females by one tenth, or one in ten. 

Burials of Females exceed Males by one in thirty. 


whom are sober and industrious, and live comfortably in 
good stone or brick cottages, which are glazed, and have 
chambers above stairs : mud buildings we have none. 
Besides the employment from husbandry, the men work 
in hop gardens, of which we have many; and fell and bark 
timber. In the spring and summer the women weed the 
corn ; and enjoy a second harvest in September by hop- 
picking. Formerly, in the dead months they availed 

It appears that a child, born and bred in this parish, has an equal chance 

to live above forty years. 
Twins thirteen times, many of whom dying young have lessened the 

chances for life. 
Chances for life in men and women appear to be equal. 

A TABLE of the Baptisms, Burials, and Marriages, from January 2, 
1761, to December 25, 1780, in the Parish of SELBORNE. 








Females. Total. 









































I 7 66 











1 9 



1 1 
















1 1 








1 1 




























J 9 








2 7 



































1 1 






1 1 











During this period of twenty years the births of Males exceeded those 

of Females . . i o. 

The burials of each sex were equal. 
And the births exceeded the deaths . . 140. 


themselves greatly by spinning wool, for making of 
barragons, a genteel corded stuff, much in vogue at that 
time for summer wear ; and chiefly manufactured at Alton, 
a neighbouring town, by some of the people called Quakers : 
but from circumstances this trade is at an end. 1 The 
inhabitants enjoy a good share of health and longevity : 
and the parish swarms with children. 



SHOULD I omit to describe with some exactness the forest 
of Wolmer, of which three fifths perhaps lie in this parish, 
my account of Selborne would be very imperfect, as it is a 
district abounding with many curious productions, both 
animal and vegetable ; and has often afforded me much 
entertainment both as a sportsman and as a naturalist. 

The royal forest of Wolmer is a tract of land of about 
seven miles in length, by two and a half in breadth, run- 
ning nearly from North to South, and is abutted on, to 
begin to the South, and so to proceed eastward, by the 
parishes of Greatham, Lysse, Rogate, and Trotton, in the 
county of Sussex ; by Bramshot, Hedleigh, and Kingsley. 
This royalty consists entirely of sand covered with heath 
and fern ; but is somewhat diversified with hills and dales, 
without having one standing tree in the whole extent. In 
the bottoms, where the waters stagnate, are many bogs, 
which formerly abounded with subterraneous trees ; though 
Dr. Plot says positively, 2 that "there never were any 
fallen trees hidden in the mosses of the southern counties." 
But he was mistaken : for I myself have seen cottages on 

1 Since the passage above was written, I am happy in being able to say 
that the spinning employment is a little revived, to the no small comfort 
of the industrious housewife. 

2 See his Hist, of Staffordshire. 


the verge of this wild district, whose timbers consisted of a 
black hard wood, looking like oak, which the owners 
assured me they procured from the bogs by probing the 
soil with spits," or some such instruments : but the peat is 
so much cut out, and the moors have been so well examined, 
that none has been found of late. 1 Besides the oak, I have 
also been shown pieces of fossil-wood of a paler colour, and 
softer nature, which the inhabitants called fir : but, upon a 
nice examination, and trial by fire, I could discover nothing 
resinous in them ; and therefore rather suppose that they 
were parts of a willow or alder, or some such aquatic tree. 
This lonely domain is a very agreeable haunt for many 
sorts of wild fowls, which not only frequent it in the 
winter, but breed there in the summer ; such as lapwings, 
snipes, wild-ducks, and, as I have discovered within these 
few years, teals. Partridges in vast plenty are bred in 
good seasons on the verge of this forest, into which they 
love to make excursions : and in particular, in the dry 
summer of 1740 and 1741, and some years after, they 
swarmed to such a degree, that parties of unreasonable 
sportsmen killed twenty and sometimes thirty brace in a 

1 Old people have assured me, that on a winter's morning they have 
discovered these trees, in the bogs, by the hoar frost, which lay longer 
over the space where they were concealed, than on the surrounding 
morass. Nor does this seem to be a fanciful notion, but consistent with 
true philosophy. Dr. Hales saith, " That the warmth of the earth, at 
some depth under ground, has an influence in promoting a thaw, as well 
as the change of the weather from a freezing to a thawing state, is mani- 
fest, from this observation, viz. Nov. 29, 1731, a little snow having 
fallen in the night, it was, by eleven the next morning, mostly melted 
away on the surface of the earth, except in several places in Bushy-park, 
where there were drains dug and covered with earth, on which the snow 
continued to lie, whether those drains were full of water or dry ; as also 
where elm-pipes lay under ground : a plain proof this, that those drains 
intercepted the warmth of the earth from ascending from greater depths 
below them : for the snow lay where the drain had more than four feet 
depth of earth over it. It continued also to lie on thatch, tiles, and the 
tops of walls." See Hales's Haemastatics, p. 360. Quere, Might not 
such observations be reduced to domestic use, by promoting the discovery 
of old obliterated drains and wells about houses ; and in Roman stations 
and camps lead to the finding of pavements, baths and graves, and other 
hidden relics of curious antiquity ? 


But there was a nobler species of game in this forest, 
now extinct, which I have heard old people say abounded 
much before shooting flying became so common, and that 
was the heath-cock, black game, or grouse. When I was 
a little boy I recollect one coming now and then to my 
father's table. The last pack remembered was killed about 
thirty-five years ago ; and within these ten years one 
solitary grey hen was sprung by some beagles in beating 
for a hare. The sportsmen cried out, " A hen pheasant " ; 
but a gentleman present, who had often seen grouse in the 
north of England, assured me that it was a grey hen. 

Nor does the loss of our black game prove the only gap 
in the Fauna Selborniensis ; for another beautiful link in 
the chain of beings is wanting, I mean the red deer, which 
toward the beginning of this century amounted to about 
five hundred head, and made a stately appearance. There 
is an old keeper, now alive, named Adams, whose great 
grandfather (mentioned in a perambulation taken in 1635), 
grandfather, father and self, enjoyed the head keepership 
of Wolmer forest in succession for more than an hundred 
years. This person assures me, that his father has often 
told him, that Queen Anne, as she was journeying on the 
Portsmouth road, did not think the forest of Wolmer 
beneath her royal regard. For she came out of the great 
road at Lippock, which is just by, and reposing herself on 
a bank smoothed for that purpose, lying about half a mile 
to the east of Wolmer-pond, and still called Queen's-bank, 
saw with great complacency and satisfaction the whole herd 
of red deer brought by the keepers along the vale before 
her, consisting then of about five hundred head. A sight 
this worthy the attention of the greatest sovereign ! But 
he further adds that, by means of the Waltham blacks, or, 
to use his own expression, as soon as they began blacking, 
they were reduced to about fifty head, and so continued 
decreasing till the time of the late Duke of Cumberland. 
It is now more than thirty years ago that his highness sent 
down an huntsman, and six yeomen-prickers, in scarlet 
jackets laced with gold, attended by the stag-hounds ; 
ordering them to take every deer in this forest alive, and 


convey them in carts to Windsor. In the course of the 
summer they caught every stag, some of which showed 
extraordinary diversion ; but, in the following winter, 
when the hinds were also carried off, such fine chases were 
exhibited as served the country people for matter of talk 
and wonder for years afterwards. I saw myself one of the 
yeomen-prickers single out a stag from the herd, and must 
confess that it was the most curious feat of activity I ever 
beheld, superior to any thing in Mr. Astley's riding-school. 
The exertions made by the horse and deer much exceeded 
all my expectations; though the former greatly excelled 
the latter in speed. When the devoted deer was separated 
from his companions, they gave him, by their watches, law, 
as they called it, for twenty minutes ; when, sounding 
their horns, the stop-dogs were permitted to pursue, and a 
most gallant scene ensued. 



THOUGH large herds of deer do much harm to the 
neighbourhood, yet the injury to the morals of the people 
is of more moment than the loss of their crops. The 
temptation is irresistible ; for most men are sportsmen 
by constitution : and there is such an inherent spirit for 
hunting in human nature, as scarce any inhibitions can 
restrain. Hence, towards the beginning of this century, 
all this country was wild about deer-stealing. Unless 
he was a hunter, as they affected to call themselves, no 
young person was allowed to be possessed of manhood or 
gallantry. The Waltham blacks at length committed such 
enormities, that government was forced to interfere with 
that severe and sanguinary act called the black act, 1 which 
now comprehends more felonies than any law that ever 

1 Statute 9 Geo. I. c. 22. 


was framed before. And, therefore, a late bishop of 
Winchester, when urged to re-stock Waltham Chase, 1 
refused, from a motive worthy of a prelate, replying that 
" It had done mischief enough already." 

Our old race of deer-stealers are hardly extinct yet : it 
was but a little while ago that, over their ale, they used to 
recount the exploits of their youth ; such as watching the 
pregnant hind to her lair, and, when the calf was dropped, 
paring its feet with a penknife to the quick to prevent its 
escape, till it was large and fat enough to be killed ; the 
shooting at one of their neighbours with a bullet in a 
turnip-field by moonshine, mistaking him for a deer ; and 
the losing a dog in the following extraordinary manner: 
Some fellows, suspecting that a calf new-fallen was 
deposited in a certain spot of thick fern, went, with a 
lurcher, to surprise it ; when the parent-hind rushed out 
of the brake, and, taking a vast spring with all her feet 
close together, pitched upon the neck of the dog, and 
broke it short in two. 

Another temptation to idleness and sporting, was a 
number of rabbits, which possessed all the hillocks and dry 
places : but these being inconvenient to the huntsmen, on 
account of their burrows, when they came to take away the 
deer, they permitted the country-people to destroy them all. 

Such forests and wastes, when their allurements to 
irregularities are removed, are of considerable service to 
neighbourhoods that verge upon them, by furnishing them 
with peat and turf for their firing; with fuel for the 
burning their lime ; and with ashes for their grasses ; and 
by maintaining their geese and their stock of young cattle 
at little or no expense. 

The manor farm of the parish of Greatham has an 
admitted claim, I see, (by an old record taken from the 
Tower of London) of turning all live stock on the forest, 
at proper seasons, bidentibus exceptis? The reason, I 

1 This chase remains unstocked to this day. The bishop was Dr. 

2 For this privilege the owner of that estate used to pay to the king 
annually seven bushels of oats. 


presume, why sheep 1 are excluded, is, because, being such 
close grazers, they would pick out all the finest grasses, 
and hinder the deer from thriving. 

Though (by statute 4 and 5 W. and Mary c. 23.) " to 
burn on any waste, between Candlemas and Midsummer, 
any grig, ling, heath and furze, goss or fern, is punishable 
with whipping and confinement in the house of correction"; 
yet, in this forest, about March or April, according to the 
dryness of the season, such vast heath-fires are lighted up, 
that they often get to a masterless head, and, catching the 
hedges, have sometimes been communicated to the under- 
woods, woods, and coppices, where great damage has 
ensued. The plea for these burnings is, that, when the old 
coat of heath, etc. is consumed, young will sprout up, and 
afford much tender brouze for cattle ; but, where there is 
large old furze, the fire, following the roots, consumes the 
very ground ; so that for hundreds of acres nothing is to 
be seen but smother and desolation, the whole circuit 
round looking like the cinders of a volcano ; and, the 
soil being quite exhausted, no traces of vegetation are to 
be found for years. These conflagrations, as they take 
place usually with a north-east or east wind, much annoy 
this village with their smoke, and often alarm the country; 
and, once in particular, I remember that a gentleman, who 
lives beyond Andover, coming to my house, when he got 
on the downs between that town and Winchester, at 
twenty-five miles distance, was surprised much with smoke 
and a hot smell of fire ; and concluded that Alresford was 
in flames ; but, when he came to that town, he then had 
apprehensions for the next village, and so on to the end of 
his journey. 

On two of the most conspicuous eminences of this 
forest, stand two arbours or bowers, made of the boughs 
of oaks ; the one called Waldon-lodge, the other Brimstone- 
lodge : these the keepers renew annually on the feast of 
St. Barnabas, taking the old materials for a perquisite. 
The farm called Blackmoor, in this parish, is obliged to 

1 In the Holt, where a full stock of fallow-deer has been kept up till 
lately, no sheep are admitted to this day. 


find the posts and brush-wood for the former ; while the 
farms at Greatham, in rotation, furnish for the latter ; and 
are all enjoined to cut and deliver the materials at the 
spot. This custom I mention, because I look upon it to 
be of very remote antiquity. 



ON the verge of the forest, as it is now circumscribed, are 
three considerable lakes, two in Oakhanger, of which I have 
nothing particular to say; and one called Bin's or Bean's 
pond, which is worthy the attention of a naturalist or a 
sportsman. For, being crowded at the upper end with 
willows, and with the carex cespitosa? it affords such a safe 
and pleasing shelter to wild ducks, teals, snipes, etc. that 
they breed there. In the winter this covert is also 
frequented by foxes, and sometimes by pheasants ; and the 
bogs produce many curious plants. [For which consult 
letter XLI. to Mr. Barrington.] 

By a perambulation of Wolmer forest and the Holt, 
made in 1635, and in the eleventh year of Charles the First 
(which now lies before me), it appears that the limits of 
the former are much circumscribed. For, to say nothing 
of the farther side, with which I am not so well acquainted, 
the bounds on this side, in old times, came into Binswood ; 
and extended to the ditch of Ward le ham-park, in which 
stands the curious mount called King John's Hill, and 
Lodge Hill ; and to the verge of Hartley Mauduit, called 
Mauduit-hatch ; comprehending also Short-heath, Oak- 

1 1 mean that sort which, rising into tall hassocks, is called by the 
foresters torrets ; a corruption, I suppose, of turrets. 

Note, In the beginning of the summer 1787 the royal forests of 
Wolmer and Holt were measured by persons sent down by govern- 


hanger, and Oakwoods ; a large district, now private 
property, though once belonging to the royal domain. 

It is remarkable that the term purlieu is never once 
mentioned in this long roll of parchment. It contains, 
besides the perambulation, a rough estimate of the value of 
the timbers, which were considerable, growing at that time 
in the district of The Holt ; and enumerates the officers, 
superior and inferior, of those joint forests, for the time being, 
and their ostensible fees and perquisites. In those days, as 
at present, there were hardly any trees in Wolmer forest. 

Within the present limits of the forest are three con- 
siderable lakes, Hogmer, Cranmer, and Wolmer ; all of 
which are stocked with carp, tench, eels, and perch : but 
the fish do not thrive well, because the water is hungry, 
and the bottoms are a naked sand. 

A circumstance respecting these ponds, though by no 
means peculiar to them, I cannot pass over in silence ; and 
that is, that instinct by which in summer all the kine, 
whether oxen, cows, calves, or heifers, retire constantly to 
the water during the hotter hours; where, being more 
exempt from flies, and inhaling the coolness of that 
element, some belly deep, and some only to mid-leg, they 
ruminate and solace themselves from about ten in the 
morning till four in the afternoon, and then return to their 
feeding. During this great proportion of the day they 
drop much dung, in which insects nestle ; and so supply 
food for the fish, which would be poorly subsisted but 
from this contingency. Thus Nature, who is a great 
economist, converts the recreation of one animal to the 
support of another ! Thomson, who was a nice observer 
of natural occurrences, did not let this pleasing circum- 
stance escape him. He says, in his Summer, 

" A various group the herds and flocks compose : 

on the grassy bank 

Some ruminating lie ; while others stand 
Half in the flood, and, often bending, sip 
The circling surface." 

Wolmer-pond, so called, I suppose, for eminence sake, 
is a vast lake for this part of the world, containing, in its 


whole circumference, 2646 yards, or very near a mile and 
an half. The length of the north-west and opposite side 
is about 704 yards, and the breadth of the south-west end 
about 456 yards. This measurement, which I caused to 
be made with good exactness, gives an area of about sixty- 
six acres, exclusive of a large irregular arm at the north-east 
corner, which we did not take into the reckoning. 

On the face of this expanse of waters, and perfectly 
secure from fowlers, lie all day long, in the winter season, 
vast flocks of ducks, teals, and wigeons, of various denom- 
inations ; where they preen and solace, and rest themselves, 
till towards sun-set, when they issue forth in little parties 
(for in their natural state they are all birds of the night) to 
feed in the brooks and meadows; returning again with the 
dawn of the morning. Had this lake an arm or two more, 
and were it planted round with thick covert (for now it is 
perfectly naked), it might make a valuable decoy. 

Yet neither its extent, nor the clearness of its water, nor 
the resort of various and curious fowls, nor its picturesque 
groups of cattle, can render this meer so remarkable as the 
great quantity of coins that were found in its bed about 
forty years ago. But, as such discoveries more properly 
belong to the antiquities of this place, I shall suppress all 
particulars for the present, till I enter professedly on my 
series of letters respecting the more remote history of this 
village and district. 



BY way of supplement, I shall trouble you once more on 
this subject, to inform you that Wolmer, with her sister 
forest Ayles Holt, alias Alice Holt, 1 as it is called in old 

1<4 In statu forest, in Scaccar. 36. Ed. 3. itiscalled^/V^o//." 
In the same, " Tit. Woolmer and Aisholt Hantisc. Dominus Rex habet 

unam capellam in hala sua de Kingesle." " Haia, sefes, sepimentum, 

parcus : a Gall, hale and Aaye." Spelman's Glossary. 


records, is held by grant from the crown for a term of 

The grantees that the author remembers are Brigadier- 
General Emanuel Scroope Howe, and his lady, Ruperta, 
who was a natural daughter of Prince Rupert by Margaret 
Hughs ; a Mr. Mordaunt, of the Peterborough family, 
who married a dowager Lady Pembroke; Henry Bilson 
Legge and lady ; and now Lord Stawel, their son. 

The lady of General Howe lived to an advanced age, 
long surviving her husband ; and, at her death, left behind 
her many curious pieces of 'mechanism of her father's 
constructing, who was a distinguished mechanic and 
artist, 1 as well as warrior ; and, among the rest, a very 
complicated clock, lately in possession of Mr. Elmer, the 
celebrated game-painter at Farnham, in the county of 

Though these two forests are only parted by a narrow 
range of enclosures, yet no two soils can be more different: 
for The Holt consists of a strong loam, of a miry nature, 
carrying a good turf, and abounding with oaks that grow 
to be large timber ; while Wolmer is nothing but a hungry, 
sandy, barren waste. 

The former, being all in the parish of Binsted, is about 
two miles in extent from north to south, and near as much 
from east to west, and contains within it many woodlands 
and lawns, and the great lodge where the grantees reside ; 
and a smaller lodge, called Goose-green ; and is abutted on 
by the parishes of Kingsley, Frinsham, Farnham, and 
Bentley; all of which have right of common. 

One thing is remarkable ; that, though The Holt has 
been of old well-stocked with fallow-deer, unrestrained by 
any pales or fences more than a common hedge, yet they 
were never seen within the limits of Wolmer ; nor were 
the red deer of Wolmer ever known to haunt the thickets 
or glades of The Holt. 

At present the deer of The Holt are much thinned and 
reduced by the night-hunters, who perpetually harass them 
in spite of the efforts of numerous keepers, and the severe 
1 This prince was the inventor of mezzotinto. 


penalties that have been put in force against them as often 
as they have been detected, and rendered liable to the lash 
of the law. Neither fines nor imprisonments can deter 
them : so impossible is it to extinguish the spirit of sport- 
ing, which seems to be inherent in human nature. 

General Howe turned out some German wild boars and 
sows in his forests, to the great terror of the neighbour- 
hood; and, at one time, a wild bull or buffalo: but the 
country rose upon them and destroyed them. 

A very large fall of timber, consisting of about one 
thousand oaks, has been cut this spring (viz. 1784) in The 
Holt forest ; one fifth of which, it is said, belongs to the 
grantee, Lord Stawel. He lays claim also to the lop and 
top : but the poor of the parishes of Binsted and Frinsham, 
Bentley and Kingsley, assert that it belongs to them ; and, 
assembling in a riotous manner, have actually taken it all 
away. One man, who keeps a team, has carried home, for 
his share, forty stacks of wood. Forty-five of these people 
his lordship has served with actions. These trees, which 
were very sound and in high perfection, were winter-cut, 
viz. in February and March, before the bark would run. 
In old times The Holt was estimated to be eighteen miles, 
computed measure, from water-carriage, viz. from the 
town of Chertsey, on the Thames ; but now it is not half 
that distance, since the Wey is made navigable up to the 
town of Godalming in the county of Surrey. 



August 4, 1767. 

IT has been my misfortune never to have had any neigh- 
bours whose studies have led them towards the pursuit of 
natural knowledge ; so that, for want of a companion to 
quicken my industry and sharpen my attention, I have 


made but slender progress in a kind of information to 
which I have been attached from my childhood. 

As to swallows (hirundines rusticae] being found in a 
torpid state during the winter in the isle of Wight, or any 
part of this country, I never heard any such account worth 
attending to. But a clergyman, of an inquisitive turn, 
assures me, that, when he was a great boy, some workmen, 
in pulling down the battlements of a church tower early in 
the spring, found two or three swifts (hirundines apodes} 
among the rubbish, which were, at first appearance, dead, 
but, on being carried toward the fire, revived. He told 
me that, out of his great care to preserve them, he put 
them in a paper bag, and hung them by the kitchen fire, 
where they were suffocated. 

Another intelligent person has informed me that, while 
he was a schoolboy at Brighthelmstone, in Sussex, a great 
fragment of the chalk-cliff fell down one stormy winter on 
the beach ; and that many people found swallows among 
the rubbish ; but, on my questioning him whether he saw 
any of those birds himself; to my no small disappointment, 
he answered me in the negative ; but that others assured 
him they did. 

Young broods of swallows began to appear this year on 
July the 1 1 th, and young martins (hirundines urbicae] were 
then fledged in their nests. Both species will breed again 
once. For I see by my fauna of last year, that young 
broods come forth so late as September the eighteenth. 
Are not these late hatchings more in favour of hiding than 
migration ? Nay, some young martins remained in their 
nests last year so late as September the twenty-ninth ; and 
yet they totally disappeared with us by the fifth of October. 

How strange is it that the swift, which seems to live 
exactly the same life with the swallow and house-martin, 
should leave us before the middle of August invariably ! 
while the latter stay often till the middle of October ; and 
once I saw numbers of house-martins on the seventh of 
November. The martins and red-wing fieldfares were 
flying in sight together ; an uncommon assemblage of 
summer and winter-birds. 


A little yellow bird (it is either a species of the alauda 
trivialis, or rather perhaps of the motacilla trochilus] still 
continues to make a sibilous shivering noise in the tops of 
tall woods. The stoparola of Ray (for which we have as 
yet no name in these parts) is called, in your Zoology, the 
fly-catcher. There is one circumstance characteristic of 
this bird, which seems to have escaped observation, and 
that is, that it takes its stand on the top of some stake or 
post, from whence it springs forth on its prey, catching a 
fly in the air, and hardly ever touching the ground, but 
returning still to the same stand for many times together. 

I perceive there are more than one species of the motacilla 
trochilus : Mr. Derham supposes, in Ray's Philos. Letters, 
that he has discovered three. In these there is again an 
instance of some very common birds that have as yet no 
English name. 

Mr. Stillingfleet makes a question whether the black-cap 
(motacilla atricapilla] be a bird of passage or not : I think 
there is no doubt of it : for, in April, in the very first fine 
weather, they come trooping, all at once, into these parts, 
but are never seen in the winter. They are delicate songsters. 

Numbers of snipes breed every summer in some moory 
ground on the verge of this parish. It is very amusing to 
see the cock bird on wing at that time, and to hear his 
piping and humming notes. 

I have had no opportunity yet of procuring any of those 
mice which I mentioned to you in town. The person that 
brought me the last says they are plenty in harvest, at 
which time I will take care to get more ; and will endeavour 
to put the matter out of doubt, whether it be a non-descript 
species or not. 

I suspect much there may be two species of water-rats. 
Ray says, and Linnaeus after him, that the water-rat is web- 
footed behind. Now I have discovered a rat on the banks 
of our little stream that is not web-footed, and yet is an 
excellent swimmer and diver : it answers exactly to the 
mus amphibius of Linnaeus (See Syst. Nat.) which he says 
" natat in fossis et urinatur" I should be glad to procure 
one "plantis palmatis" Linnaeus seems to be in a puzzle 


about his mus amphibius, and to doubt whether it differs 
from his mus terrestris ; which if it be, as he allows, the 
"mus agrestis capite grandi brachyuros" of Ray, is widely 
different from- the water-rat, both in size, make, and 
manner of life. 

As to the falco, which I mentioned in town, I shall take 
the liberty to send it down to you into Wales ; presuming 
on your candour, that you will excuse me if it should 
appear as familiar to you as it is strange to me. Though 
mutilated " qualem dices . . . antehac fuisse, tales cum sint 
reliquiae ! " 

It haunted a marshy piece of ground in quest of wild- 
ducks and snipes : but, when it was shot, had just knocked 
down a rook, which it was tearing in pieces. I cannot 
make it answer to any of our English hawks ; neither 
could I find any like it at the curious exhibition of stuffed 
birds in Spring-Gardens. I found it nailed up at the end 
of a barn, which is the countryman's museum. 

The parish I live in is a very abrupt, uneven country, 
full of hills and woods, and therefore full of birds. 



Selborne, September 9, 1767. 

IT will not be without impatience that I shall wait for 
your thoughts with regard to the falco ; as to its weight, 
breadth, etc. I wish I had set them down at the time : 
but, to the best of my remembrance, it weighed two 
pounds and eight ounces, and measured, from wing to 
wing, thirty-eight inches. Its cere and feet were yellow, 
and the circle of its eyelids a bright yellow. As it had 
been killed some days, and the eyes were sunk, I could 
make no good observation on the colour of the pupils and 
the irides. 


The most unusual birds I ever observed in these parts 
were a pair of hoopoes (upupa} which came several years 
ago in the summer, and frequented an ornamented piece 
of ground, which joins to my garden, for some weeks. 
They used to march about in a stately manner, feeding in 
the walks, many times in the day ; and seemed disposed to 
breed in my outlet ; but were frighted and persecuted by 
idle boys, who would never let them be at rest. 

Three gross-beaks (loxia coccothraustes] appeared some 
years ago in my fields, in the winter ; one of which I shot : 
since that, now and then one is occasionally seen in the 
same dead season. 

A cross-bill (loxia curvirostra) was killed last year in 
this neighbourhood. 

Our streams, which are small, and rise only at the end 
of the village, yield nothing but the bull's head or 
miller's thumb (gobius fluviatilis capitatus}, the trout (trutta 
fluviatilis], the eel (anguilla), the lampern (lampaetra parva 
et fluviatilis'}, and the stickle-back (pisdculus aculeatus). 

We are twenty miles from the sea, and almost as many 
from a great river, and therefore see but little of sea-birds. 
As to wild-fowls, we have a few teams of ducks bred in 
the moors where the snipes breed; and multitudes of 
widgeons and teals in hard weather frequent our lakes 
in the forest. 

Having some acquaintance with a tame brown owl, I 
find that it casts up the fur of mice, and the feathers of 
birds in pellets, after the manner of hawks : when full, 
like a dog, it hides what it cannot eat. 

The young of the barn-owl are not easily raised, as they 
want a constant supply of fresh mice : whereas the young 
of the brown owl will eat indiscriminately all that is 
brought ; snails, rats, kittens, puppies, magpies, and any 
kind of carrion or offal. 

The house-martins have eggs still, and squab-young. 
The last swift I observed was about the twenty-first of 
August ; it was a straggler. 

Red-starts, fly-catchers, white-throats, and reguli non 
cristati, still appear ; but I have seen no black-caps lately. 


I forgot to mention that I once saw, in Christ Church 
college quadrangle in Oxford, on a very sunny warm 
morning, a house martin flying about, and settling on the 
parapet, so late as the twentieth of November. 

At present I know only two species of bats, the common 
vespertilio murinus and the vespertilio auritus. 

I was much entertained last summer with a tame bat, 
which would take flies out of a person's hand. If you 
gave it any thing to eat, it brought its wings round before 
the mouth, hovering and hiding its head in the manner of 
birds of prey when they feed. The adroitness it showed 
in shearing off the wings of the flies, which were always 
rejected, was worthy of observation, and pleased me much. 
Insects seemed to be most acceptable, though it did not 
refuse raw flesh when offered : so that the notion that 
bats go down chimnies and gnaw men's bacon, seems no 
improbable story. While I amused myself with this 
wonderful quadruped, I saw it several times confute the 
vulgar opinion, that bats when down on a flat surface 
cannot get on the wing again, by rising with great ease 
from the floor. It ran, I observed, with more dispatch 
than I was aware of ; but in a most ridiculous and grotesque 

Bats drink on the wing, like swallows, by sipping the 
surface, as they play over pools and streams. They love 
to frequent waters, not only for the sake of drinking, but 
on account of insects, which are found over them in the 
greatest plenty. As I was going, some years ago, pretty 
late, in a boat from Richmond to Sunbury, on a warm 
summer's evening, I think I saw myriads of bats between 
the two places : the air swarmed with them all along the 
Thames, so that hundreds were in sight at a time. 

I am, etc. 



November 4, 1767. 


IT gave me no small satisfaction to hear that the falco l 
turned out an uncommon one. I must confess I should 
have been better pleased to have heard that I had sent you 
a bird that you had never seen before ; but that, I find, 
would be a difficult task. 

I have procured some of the mice mentioned in my 
former letters, a young one and a female with young, both 
of which I have preserved in brandy. From the colour, 
shape, size, and manner of nesting, I make no doubt but 
that the species is nondescript. They are much smaller 
and more slender than the mus domesticus medius of Ray; 
and have more of the squirrel or dormouse colour : their 
belly is white ; a straight line along their sides divides the 
shades of their back and belly . They never enter into houses ; 
are carried into ricks and barns with the sheaves ; abound 
in harvest, and build their nests amidst the straws of the 
corn above the ground, and sometimes in thistles. They 
breed as many as eight at a litter, in a little round nest 
composed of the blades of grass or wheat. 

One of these nests I procured this autumn, most arti- 
ficially platted, and composed of the blades of wheat ; 
perfectly round, and about the size of a cricket-ball ; with 
the aperture so ingeniously closed, that there was no dis- 
covering to what part it belonged. It was so compact and 
well filled, that it would roll across the table without being 
discomposed, though it contained eight little mice that were 
naked and blind. As this nest was perfectly full, how 
could the dam come at her litter respectively so as to 
administer a teat to each ? perhaps she opens different 
places for that purpose, adjusting them again when the 
1 This hawk proved to be the falco peregrinus ; a variety. 


business is over : but she could not possibly be contained 
herself in the ball with her young, which moreover would 
be daily increasing in bulk. This wonderful procreant 
cradle, and elegant instance of the efforts of instinct, 
was found in a wheat-field, suspended in the head of a 

A gentleman, curious in birds, wrote me word that his 
servant had shot one last January, in that severe weather, 
which he believed would puzzle me. I called to see it this 
summer, not knowing what to expect : but, the moment I 
took it in hand, I pronounced it the n\2\s, garrulus bohemicus, 
or German silk-tail, from the five peculiar crimson tags or 
points which it carries at the ends of five of the short 
remiges. It cannot, I suppose, with any propriety, be 
called an English bird : and yet I see, by Ray's Philosoph. 
Letters, that great flocks of them, feeding upon haws, 
appeared in this kingdom in the winter of 1685. 

The mention of haws puts me in mind that there is a 
total failure of that wild fruit, so conducive to the support 
of many of the winged nation. For the same severe 
weather, late in the spring, which cut off all the produce of 
the more tender and curious trees, destroyed also that of 
the more hardy and common. 

Some birds, haunting with the missel-thrushes, and feed- 
ing on the berries of the yew-tree, which answered to the 
description of the merula torquata, or ring-ouzel, were 
lately seen in this neighbourhood. I employed some 
people to procure me a specimen, but without success. 
See Letter VIII. 

Query Might not Canary birds be naturalized to this 
climate, provided their eggs were put, in the spring, into 
the nests of some of their congeners, as goldfinches, green- 
finches, etc. ? Before winter perhaps they might be 
hardened, and able to shift for themselves. 

About ten years ago I used to spend some weeks yearly 
at Sunbury, which is one of those pleasant villages lying on 
the Thames, near Hampton-court. In the autumn, I could 
not help being much amused with those myriads of the 
swallow kind which assemble in those parts. But what 


struck me most was, that, from the time they began to 
congregate, forsaking the chimnies and houses, they roosted 
every night in the osier-beds of the aits of that river. 
Now this resorting towards that element, at that season of 
the year, seems to give some countenance to the northern 
opinion (strange as it is) of their retiring under water. A 
Swedish naturalist is so much persuaded of that fact, that 
he talks, in his calendar of Flora, as familiarly of the 
swallow's going under water in the beginning of September, 
as he would of his poultry going to roost a little before 

An observing gentleman in London writes me word that 
he saw a house-martin, on the twenty-third of last October, 
flying in and out of its nest in the Borough. And I myself, 
on the twenty-ninth of last October (as I was travelling 
through Oxford), saw four or five swallows hovering 
round and settling on the roof of the county-hospital. 

Now is it likely that these poor little birds (which 
perhaps had not been hatched but a few weeks) should, at 
that late season of the year, and from so midland a county, 
attempt a voyage to Goree or Senegal, almost as far as the 
equator P 1 

I acquiesce entirely in your opinion that, though most 
of the swallow kind may migrate, yet that some do stay 
behind and hide with us during the winter. 

As to the short-winged soft-billed birds, which come 
trooping in such numbers in the spring, I am at a loss even 
what to suspect about them. I watched them narrowly 
this year, and saw them abound till about Michaelmas, 
when they appeared no longer. Subsist they cannot openly 
among us, and yet elude the eyes of the inquisitive : and, 
as to their hiding, no man pretends to have found any of 
them in a torpid state in the winter. But with regard to 
their migration, what difficulties attend that supposition ! 
that such feeble bad fliers (who the summer long never flit 
but from hedge to hedge) should be able to traverse vast 
seas and continents in order to enjoy milder seasons amidst 
the regions of Africa ! 

1 See Adanson's Voyage to Senegal. 




Selborne, Jan. 22, 1768. 


As in one of your former letters you expressed the more 
satisfaction from my correspondence on account of my 
living in the most southerly county ; so now I may return 
the compliment, and expect to have my curiosity gratified 
by your living much more to the North. 

For many years past I have observed that towards 
Christmas vast flocks of chaffinches have appeared in the 
fields ; many more, I used to think, than could be hatched 
in any one neighbourhood. But, when I came to observe 
them more narrowly, I was amazed to find that they seemed 
to be almost all hens. I communicated my suspicions to 
some intelligent neighbours, who, after taking pains about 
the matter, declared that they also thought them all mostly 
females ; at least fifty to one. This extraordinary occur- 
rence brought to my mind the remark of Linnaeus ; that 
" before winter, all their hen chaffinches migrate through 
Holland into Italy." Now I want to know, from some 
curious person in the North, whether there are any large 
flocks of these finches with them in the winter, and of 
which sex they mostly consist? For, from such intelli- 
gence, one might be able to judge whether our female 
flocks migrate from the other end of the island, or 
whether they come over to us from the continent. 

We have, in the winter, vast flocks of the common 
linnets; more, I think, than can be bred in any one 
district. These, I observe, when the spring advances, 
assemble on some tree in the sunshine, and join all in a 
gentle sort of chirping, as if they were about to break up 
their winter quarters and betake themselves to their 
proper summer homes. It is well known, at least, 
that the swallows and the fieldfares do congregate with 


a gentle twittering before they make their respective 

You may depend on it that the bunting, emberiza 
miliaria, does not leave this country in the winter. In 
January 1767 I saw several dozen of them, in the midst 
of a severe frost, among the bushes on the downs near 
Andover : in our woodland enclosed district it is a 
rare bird. 

Wagtails, both white and yellow, are with us all the 
winter. Quails crowd to our southern coast, and are 
often killed in numbers by people that go on purpose. 

Mr. Stillingfleet, in his Tracts, says that " if the wheat- 
ear, (aenanthe] does not quit England, it certainly shifts 
places ; for about harvest they are not to be found, where 
there was before great plenty of them." This well 
accounts for the vast quantities that are caught about that 
time on the south downs near Lewes, where they are 
esteemed a delicacy. There have been shepherds, I have 
been credibly informed, that have made many pounds in a 
season by catching them in traps. And though such multi- 
tudes are taken, I never saw (and I am well acquainted with 
those parts) above two or three at a time : for they are 
never gregarious. They may, perhaps, migrate in general ; 
and, for that purpose, draw towards the coast of Sussex in 
autumn ; but that they do not all withdraw I am sure ; 
because I see a few stragglers in many counties, at all 
times of the year, especially about warrens and stone 

I have no acquaintance, at present, among the gentlemen 
of the navy : but have written to a friend, who was a sea- 
chaplain in the late war, desiring him to look into his 
minutes, with respect to birds that settled on their rigging 
during their voyage up or down the channel. What 
Hasselquist says on that subject is remarkable : there were 
little short-winged birds frequently coming on board his 
ship all the way from our channel quite up to the Levant, 
especially before squally weather. 

What you suggest, with regard to Spain, is highly 
probable. The winters of Andalusia are so mild, that, 


in all likelihood, the soft-billed birds that leave us that 
season may find insects sufficient to support them there. 

Some young man, possessed of fortune, health, and 
leisure, should make an autumnal voyage into that king- 
dom ; and should spend a year there, investigating the 
natural history of that vast country. Mr. Willughby 1 
passed through that kingdom on such an errand ; but he 
seems to have skirted along in a superficial manner and an 
ill humour, being much disgusted at the rude dissolute 
manners of the people. 

I have no friend left now at Sunbury to apply to about 
the swallows roosting on the aits of the Thames : nor can 
I hear any more about those birds which I suspected were 
merulae torquatae. 

As to the small mice, I have farther to remark, that though 
they hang their nests for breeding up amidst the straws of 
the standing corn, above the ground ; yet I find that, in 
the winter they burrow deep in the earth, and make warm 
beds of grass : but their grand rendezvous seems to be in 
corn-ricks, into which they are carried at harvest. A 
neighbour housed an oat-rick lately, under the thatch of 
which were assembled near an hundred, most of which were 
taken ; and some I saw. I measured them ; and found that, 
from nose to tail, they were just two inches and a quarter, 
and their tails just two inches long. Two of them, in a 
scale, weighed down just one copper halfpenny, which is 
about the third of an ounce avoirdupois : so that I suppose 
they are the smallest quadrupeds in this island. A full- 
grown mus medius domesticus weighs, I find, one ounce, 
lumping weight, which is more than six times as much as 
the mouse above ; and measures from nose to rump four 
inches and a quarter, and the same in its tail. 

We have had a very severe frost and deep snow this 
month. My thermometer was one day fourteen degrees 
and an half below the freezing point, within doors. The 
tender evergreens were injured pretty much. It was very 
providential that the air was still, and the ground well 
covered with snow, else vegetation in general must have 
1 See Ray's Travels, p. 466. 


suffered prodigiously. There is reason to believe that 
some days were more severe than any since the year 

I am, etc. etc. 



Selborne, March 12, 1768. 


IF some curious gentleman would procure the head of a 
fallow-deer, and have it dissected, he would find it furnished 
with two spiracula, or breathing-places, beside the nostrils ; 
probably analogous to the puncta lachrymalia in the human 
head. When deer are thirsty they plunge their noses, like 
some horses, very deep under water, while in the act of 
drinking, and continue them in that situation for a consider- 
able time : but, to obviate any inconveniency, they can 
open two vents, one at the inner corner of each eye, having 
a communication with the nose. Here seems to be an 
extraordinary provision of nature worthy our attention ; 
and which has not, that I know of, been noticed by any 
naturalist. For it looks as if these creatures would not be 
suffocated, though both their mouths and nostrils were 
stopped. This curious formation of the head may be of 
singular service to beasts of chase, by affording them free 
respiration : and no doubt these additional nostrils are 
thrown open when they are hard run. 1 Mr. Ray observed 
that, at Malta, the owners slit up the nostrils of such asses 

1 In answer to this account, Mr. Pennant sent me the following 
curious and pertinent reply : " I was much surprised to find in the 
antelope something analogous to what you mention as so remarkable in 
deer. This animal has a long slit beneath each eye, which can be opened 
and shut at pleasure. On holding an orange to one, the creature made 
as much use of those orifices as of his nostrils, applying them to the fruit, 
and seeming to smell it through them." 


as were hard worked : for they, being naturally strait or 
small, did not admit air sufficient to serve them when they 
travelled or laboured in that hot climate. And we know 
that grooms, and gentlemen of the turf, think large nostrils 
necessary, and a perfection, in hunters and running horses. 
Oppian, the Greek poet, by the following line, seems to 
have had some notion that stags have four spiracula : 

t pives, Trio-vpes irvoiya-i SiavXoi." 
" Ouadrifidae nares, quadruplices ad respirationem canales." 

Opp. Cyn. Lib. ii. 1. 181. 

Writers, copying from one another, make Aristotle say 
that goats breathe at their ears ; whereas he asserts just the 
contrary : " AXK/maiwv y a P OVK aXrjOij \eyet, d>a/uei/09 avairveiv 
ray cuya? Kara ra cSra." " Alcmaeon does not advance 
what is true, when he avers that goats breathe through 
their ears." History of Animals. Book I. chap. xi. 



Selborne, March 30, 1768. 


SOME intelligent country people have a notion that we have, 
in these parts, a species of the genus mustelinum, besides the 
weasel, stoat, ferret, and polecat ; a little reddish beast, not 
much bigger than a field mouse, but much longer, which 
they call a cane. This piece of intelligence can be little 
depended on ; but farther inquiry may be made. 

A gentleman in this neighbourhood had two milkwhite 
rooks in one nest. A booby of a carter, finding them 
before they were able to fly, threw them down and destroyed 
them, to the regret of the owner, who would have been 
glad to have preserved such a curiosity in his rookery. I 
saw the birds myself nailed against the end of a barn, and 


was surprised to find that their bills, legs, feet, and claws 
were milkwhite. 

A shepherd saw, as he thought, some white larks on a 
down above my house this winter : were not these the 
emberiza niva/ts, the snow-flake of the Brit. Zool. ? No 
doubt they were. 

A few years ago I saw a cock bullfinch in a cage, which 
had been caught in the fields after it had come to its full 
colours. In about a year it began to look dingy ; and, 
blackening every succeeding year, it became coal-black at 
the end of four. Its chief food was hempseed. Such 
influence has food on the colour of animals ! The pied 
and mottled colours of domesticated animals are supposed 
to be owing to high, various, and unusual food. 

I had remarked, for years, that the root of the cuckoo- 
pint (arum) was frequently scratched out of the dry banks 
of hedges, and eaten in severe snowy weather. After 
observing, with some exactness, myself, and getting others 
to do the same, we found it was the thrush kind that 
searched it out. The root of the arum is remarkably 
warm and pungent. 

Our flocks of female chaffinches have not yet forsaken 
us. The blackbirds and thrushes are very much thinned 
down by that fierce weather in January. 

In the middle of February I discovered, in my tall hedges, 
a little bird that raised my curiosity : it was of that yellow- 
green colour that belongs to the salicaria kind, and, I think, 
was soft- billed. It was no parus ; and was too long and 
too big for the golden-crowned wren, appearing most like 
the largest willow-wren. It hung sometimes with its back 
downwards, but never continuing one moment in the same 
place. I shot at it, but it was so desultory that I missed 
my aim. 

I wonder that the stone curlew, charadrius oedicnemus, 
should be mentioned by the writers as a rare bird : it 
abounds in all the campaign parts of Hampshire and 
Sussex, and breeds, I think, all the summer, having young 
ones, I know, very late in the autumn. Already they 
begin clamouring in the evening. They cannot, I think, 


with any propriety, be called, as they are by Mr. Ray, 
" circa aquas versantes " ; for with us, by day at least, they 
haunt only the most dry, open, upland fields and sheep 
walks, far removed from water. What they may do in the 
night I cannot say. Worms are their usual food, but they 
also eat toads and frogs. 

I can show you some good specimens of my new mice. 
Linnaeus, perhaps, would call the species mus minimus. 



Selborne, April 18, 1768. 


THE history of the stone curlew, charadrius oedicmmus^ is 
as follows. It lays its eggs, usually two, never more than 
three, on the bare ground, without any nest, in the field ; 
so that the countryman, in stirring his fallows, often destroys 
them. The young run immediately from the egg like 
partridges, etc. and are withdrawn to some flinty field by 
the dam, where they skulk among the stones, which are 
their best security ; for their feathers are so exactly of the 
colour of our grey spotted flints, that the most exact 
observer, unless he catches the eye of the young bird, may 
be eluded. The eggs are short and round ; of a dirty 
white, spotted with dark bloody blotches. Though I might 
not be able, just when I pleased, to procure you a bird, yet 
I could show you them almost any day ; and any evening 
you may hear them round the village, for they make a 
clamour which may be heard a mile. Oedicnemus is a most 
apt and expressive name for them, since their legs seem 
swoln like those of a gouty man. After harvest I have 
shot them before the pointers in turnip-fields. 

I make no doubt but there are three species of the 
willow-wrens : two I know perfectly ; but have not been 


able yet to procure the third. No two birds can differ 
more in their notes, and that constantly, than those two 
that I am acquainted with ; for the one has a joyous, easy, 
laughing note ; the other a harsh loud chirp. The former 
is every way larger, and three quarters of an inch longer, 
and weighs two drams and a half; while the latter weighs 
but two : so the songster is one fifth heavier than the 
chirper. The chirper (being the first summer-bird of 
passage that is heard, the wryneck sometimes excepted) 
begins his two notes in the middle of March, and continues 
them through the spring and summer till the end of 
August, as appears by my journals. The legs of the larger 
of these two are flesh-coloured ; of the less, black. 

The grasshopper-lark began his sibilous note in my fields 
last Saturday. Nothing can be more amusing than the 
whisper of this little bird, which seems to be close by 
though at an hundred yards distance ; and, when close at 
your ear, is scarce any louder than when a great way off. 
Had I not been a little acquainted with insects, and known 
that the grasshopper kind is not yet hatched, I should have 
hardly believed but that it had been a locusta whispering in 
the bushes. The country people laugh when you tell 
them that it is the note of a bird. It is a most artful 
creature, sculking in the thickest part of a bush ; and will 
sing at a yard distance, provided it be concealed. I was 
obliged to get a person to go on the other side of the 
hedge where it haunted ; and then it would run, creeping 
like a mouse, before us for a hundred yards together, 
through the bottom of the thorns ; yet it would not come 
into fair sight : but in a morning early, and when undis- 
turbed, it sings on the top of a twig, gaping and shivering 
with its wings. Mr. Ray himself had no knowledge of 
this bird, but received his account from Mr. Johnson, who 
apparently confounds it with the reguli non cristafi, from 
which it is very distinct. See Ray's Philosophical Letters, 
p. 108. 

The fly-catcher (sto-parola) has not yet appeared : it 
usually breeds in my vine. The redstart begins to sing : 
its note is short and imperfect, but is continued till about 


the middle of June. The willow-wrens (the smaller sort) 
are horrid pests in a garden, destroying the pease, cherries, 
currants, etc. ; and are so tame that a gun will not scare 

A List of the Summer Birds of Passage discovered in this 
neighbourhood, ranged somewhat in the Order in which 

they appear: 

Linnaei Nomma. 

Smallest willow-wren, Motacilla trochilus : 

Wryneck, Jy nx torquilla: 

House-swallow, Hirundo rustica : 

Martin, Hirundo urbica : 

Sand-martin, Hirundo riparia : 

Cuckoo, Cuculus canorus : 

Nightingale, Motacilla luscinia : 

Blackcap, Motacilla atricapilla : 

Whitethroat, Motacilla sylvia : 

Middle willow-wren, Motacilla trochilus : 

Swift, Hirundo apus : 

Stone curlew,? Charadrius oedicnemus ? 

Turtle-dove, ? Turtur aldrovandi ? 

Grasshopper-lark, Alauda trivialis : 

Landrail, Rallus crex : 

Largest willow-wren, Motacilla trochilui : 

Redstart, Motacilla phaenicurus : 

Goatsucker, or fern-owl, Caprimulgus europaeus : 

Fly-catcher, Muscicapa grisola : 

My countrymen talk much of a bird that makes a clatter 
with its bill against a dead bough, or some old pales, calling 
it a jar-bird. I procured one to be shot in the very fact ; 
it proved to be the sitta europaea (the nuthatch). Mr. Ray 
says that the less spotted woodpecker does the same. This 
noise may be heard a furlong or more. 

Now is the only time to ascertain the short-winged 
summer birds ; for, when the leaf is out, there is no 
making any remarks on such a restless tribe ; and, when 
once the young begin to appear, it is all confusion : there 
is no distinction of genus, species, or sex. 

In breeding-time snipes play over the moors, piping and 
humming : they always hum as they are descending. Is 
not their hum ventriloquous like that of the turkey ? 
Some suspect it is made by their wings. 


This morning I saw the golden-crowned wren, whose 
crown glitters like burnished gold. It often hangs like a 
titmouse, with its back downwards. 

Yours, etc. etc. 



Selborne, June 18, 1768. 


ON Wednesday last arrived your agreeable letter of June 
the loth. It gives me great satisfaction to find that you 
pursue these studies still with such vigour, and are in such 
forwardness with regard to reptiles and fishes. 

The reptiles, few as they are, I am not acquainted with, 
so well as I could wish, with regard to their natural 
history. There is a degree of dubiousness and obscurity 
attending the propagation of this class of animals, some- 
thing analogous to that of the cryptogamia in the sexual 
system of plants : and the case is the same as regards some 
of the fishes : as the eel, etc. 

The method in which toads procreate and bring forth 
seems to be very much in the dark. Some authors say 
that they are viviparous : and yet Ray classes them among 
his oviparous animals ; and is silent with regard to the 
manner of their bringing forth. Perhaps they may be 
era) im.v WOTOKOI, ew c <IWOTO/H, as is known to be the case 
with the viper. 

The copulation of frogs (or at least the appearance of it; 
for Swammerdam proves that the male has no penis intrans] 
is notorious to every body : because we see them sticking 
upon each other's backs for a month together in the spring : 
and yet I never saw, or read, of toads being observed in 
the same situation. It is strange that the matter with 
regard to the venom of toads has not yet been settled. 


That they are not noxious to some animals is plain : for 
ducks, buzzards, owls, stone curlews, and snakes, eat them, 
to my knowledge, with impunity. And I well remember 
the time, but ' was not eye-witness to the fact (though 
numbers of persons were) when a quack, at this village, ate 
a toad to make the country-people stare ; afterwards he 
drank oil. 

I have been informed also, from undoubted authority, 
that some ladies (ladies you will say of peculiar taste) took 
a fancy to a toad, which they nourished summer after 
summer, for many years, till he grew to a monstrous size, 
with the maggots which turn to flesh flies. The reptile 
used to come forth every evening from an hole under the 
garden-steps; and was taken up, after supper, on the table 
to be fed. But at last a tame raven, kenning him as he 
put forth his head, gave him such a severe stroke with his 
horny beak as put out one eye. After this accident the 
creature languished for some time and died. 

I need not remind a gentleman of your extensive reading 
of the excellent account there is from Mr. Derham, in 
Ray's Wisdom of God in the Creation (p. 365) concerning 
the migration of frogs from their breeding ponds. In this 
account he at once subverts that foolish opinion of their 
dropping from the clouds in rain ; showing that it is from 
the grateful coolness and moisture of those showers that 
they are tempted to set out on their travels, which they 
defer till those fall. Frogs are as yet in their tadpole 
state; but in a few weeks, our lanes, paths, fields, will 
swarm for a few days with myriads of these emigrants, no 
larger than my little finger nail. Swammerdam gives a 
most accurate account of the method and situation in which 
the male impregnates the spawn of the female. How 
wonderful is the oeconomy of Providence with regard to the 
limbs of so vile a reptile ! While it is aquatic it has a fish- 
like tail, and no legs : as soon as the legs sprout, the tail 
drops off as useless, and the animal betakes itself to the land ! 

Merret, I trust, is widely mistaken when he advances 
that the rana arborea is an English reptile ; it abounds in 
Germany and Switzerland. 


It is to be remembered that the salamandra aquatica of 
Ray (the water-newt or eft) will frequently bite at the 
angler's bait, and is often caught on his hook. I used to 
take it for granted that the salamandra aquatica was 
hatched, lived, and died in the water. But John Ellis, 
Esq., F.R.S. (the coralline Ellis) asserts, in a letter to the 
Royal Society, dated June the 5th, 1766, in his account of 
the mud inguana, an amphibious bipes from South Carolina, 
that the water-eft, or newt, is only the larva of the land- 
eft, as tadpoles are of frogs. Lest I should be suspected 
to misunderstand his meaning, I shall give it in his own 
words. Speaking of the opercula or covering to the gills 
of the mud inguana, he proceeds to say that " The forms 
of these pennated coverings approach very near to what I 
have some time ago observed in the larva or aquatic state 
of our English lacerta, known by the name of eft, or newt; 
which serve them for coverings to their gills, and for fins 
to swim with while in this state ; and which they lose, as 
well as the fins of their tails, when they change their state, 
and become land animals, as I have observed, by keeping 
them alive for some time myself." 

Linnaeus, in his Systema Naturae, hints at what Mr. 
Ellis advances more than once. 

Providence has been so indulgent to us as to allow of 
but one venomous reptile of the serpent kind in these 
kingdoms, and that is the viper. As you propose the 
good of mankind to be an object of your publications, you 
will not omit to mention common salad-oil as a sovereign 
remedy against the bite of the viper. As to the blind 
worm (anguis fragilis, so called because it snaps in sunder 
with a small blow), I have found, on examination, that it is 
perfectly innocuous. A neighbouring yeoman (to whom I 
am indebted for some good hints) killed and opened a 
female viper about the twenty-seventh of May : he found 
her filled with a chain of eleven eggs, about the size of 
those of a blackbird ; but none of them were advanced so 
far towards a state of maturity as to contain any rudiments 
of young. Though they are oviparous, yet they are 
viviparous also, hatching their young within their bellies, 


and then bringing them forth. Whereas snakes lay chains 
of eggs every summer in my melon beds, in spite of all 
that my people can do to prevent them ; which eggs do 
not hatch till the spring following, as I have often expe- 
rienced. Several intelligent folks assure me that they have 
seen the viper open her mouth and admit her helpless 
young down her throat on sudden surprises, just as the 
female opossum does her brood into the pouch under her 
belly, upon the like emergencies; and yet the London 
viper-catchers insist on it, to Mr. Barrington, that no such 
thing ever happens. The serpent kind eat, I believe, but 
once in a year; or, rather, but only just at one season of 
the year. Country people talk much of a water-snake, 
but, I am pretty sure, without any reason ; for the common 
snake (coluber natrix] delights much to sport in the water, 
perhaps with a view to procure frogs and other food. 

I cannot well guess how you are to make out your 
twelve species of reptiles, unless it be by the various 
species, or rather varieties, of our lacerti, of which Ray 
enumerates five. I have not had an opportunity of 
ascertaining these ; but remember well to have seen, 
formerly, several beautiful green lacerti on the sunny 
sandbanks near Farnham, in Surrey ; and Ray admits 
there are such in Ireland. 



Selborne, July 27, 1768. 


I RECEIVED your obliging and communicative letter of 
June the 28th, while I was on a visit at a gentleman's 
house, where I had neither books to turn to, nor leisure to 
sit down, to return you an answer to many queries, which 
I wanted to resolve in the best manner that I am able. 


A person, by my order, has searched our brooks, but 
could find no such fish as the gas teros feus pungitius : he 
found the gasterosteus aculeatus in plenty. This morning, 
in a basket, I packed a little earthen pot full of wet moss, 
and in it some sticklebacks, male and female ; the females 
big with spawn : some lamperns ; some bulls heads ; but 
I could procure no minnows. This basket will be in 
Fleet-street by eight this evening ; so I hope Mazel will 
have them fresh and fair to-morrow morning. I gave 
some directions, in a letter, to what particulars the en- 
graver should be attentive. 

Finding, while I was on a visit, that I was within a 
reasonable distance of Ambresbury, I sent a servant over 
to that town, and procured several living specimens of 
loaches, which he brought, safe and brisk, in a glass 
decanter. They were taken in the gullies that were cut 
for watering the meadows. From these fishes (which 
measured from two to four inches in length) I took the 
following description : " The loach, in its general aspect, 
has a pellucid appearance : its back is mottled with irregular 
collections of small black dots, not reaching much below 
the tinea /ateralis, as are the back and tail fins : a black line 
runs from each eye down to the nose ; its belly is of a 
silvery white ; the upper jaw projects beyond the lower, 
and is surrounded with six feelers, three on each side ; its 
pectoral fins are large, its ventral much smaller ; the fin 
behind its anus small ; its dorsal fin large, containing eight 
spines ; its tail, where it joins to the tail-fin, remarkably 
broad, without any taperness, so as to be characteristic of 
this genus : the tail-fin is broad, and square at the end. 
From the breadth and muscular strength of the tail, it 
appears to be an active nimble fish." 

In my visit I was not very far from Hungerford, and 
did not forget to make some inquiries concerning the 
wonderful method of curing cancers by means of toads. 
Several intelligent persons, both gentry and clergy, do, I 
find, give a great deal of credit to what was asserted in the 
papers : and I myself dined with a clergyman who seemed 
to be persuaded that what is related is matter of fact ; but, 


when I came to attend to his account, I thought I discerned 
circumstances which did not a little invalidate the woman's 
story of the manner in which she came by her skill. She 
says of herself "that, labouring under a virulent cancer, she 
went to some church where there was a vast crowd : on 
going into a pew, she was accosted by a strange clergyman ; 
who, after expressing compassion for her situation, told her 
that if she would make such an application of living toads 
as is mentioned she would be well." Now is it likely that 
this unknown gentleman should express so much tender- 
ness for this single sufferer, and not feel any for the many 
thousands that daily languish under this terrible disorder ? 
Would he not have made use of this invaluable nostrum 
for his own emolument ; or, at least, by some means of 
publication or other, have found a method of making it 
public for the good of mankind ? In short, this woman 
(as it appears to me) having set up for a cancer-doctress, 
finds it expedient to amuse the country with this dark and 
mysterious relation. 

The water-eft has not, that I can discern, the least 
appearance of any gills ; for want of which it is continually 
rising to the surface of the water to take in fresh air. I 
opened a big-bellied one indeed, and found it full of spawn. 
Not that this circumstance at all invalidates the assertion 
that they are larvae : for the larvae of insects are full of 
eggs, which they exclude the instant they enter their last 
state. The water-eft is continually climbing over the brims 
of the vessel, within which we keep it in water, and wander- 
ing away : and people every summer see numbers crawling 
out of the pools where they are hatched, up the dry banks. 
There are varieties of them, differing in colour ; and some 
have fins up their tail and back, and some have not. 




Selborne, Aug. 1 7, 1 768. 


I HAVE now, past dispute, made out three distinct species 
of the willow-wrens (motacillae trochilt) which constantly 
and invariably use distinct notes. But, at the same time, 
I am obliged to confess that I know nothing of your 
willow-lark. 1 In my letter of April the i8th, I told you 
peremptorily that I knew your willow-lark, but had not 
seen it then : but, when I came to procure it, it proved, in 
all respects, a very motacilla trochilus ; only that it is a size 
larger than the two other, and the yellow-green of the 
whole upper part of the body is more vivid, and the belly 
of a clearer white. I have specimens of the three sorts 
now lying before me ; and can discern that there are three 
gradations of sizes, and that the least has black legs, and 
the other two flesh-coloured ones. The yellowest bird is 
considerably the largest, and has its quill-feathers and 
secondary feathers tipped with white, which the others 
have not. This last haunts only the tops of trees in high 
beechen woods, and makes a sibilous grasshopper-like noise, 
now and then, at short intervals, shivering a little with its 
wings when it sings ; and is, I make no doubt now, the 
regulus non cristatus of Ray, which he says " cantat voce 
striduU locus tae" Yet this great ornithologist never sus- 
pected that there were three species. 

1 Brit. Zool. edit. 1776, octavo, p. 381. 




Selborne, October 8, 1768. 

IT is, I find, in zoology as it is in botany : all nature is so 
full, that that district produces the greatest variety which 
is the most examined. Several birds, which are said to 
belong to the north only, are, it seems, often in the south. 
I have discovered this summer three species of birds with 
us, which writers mention as only to be seen in the northern 
counties. The first that was brought me (on the I4th of 
May) was the sandpiper, tringa hypoleucus : it was a cock 
bird, and haunted the banks of some ponds near the village ; 
and, as it had a companion, doubtless intended to have bred 
near that water. Besides, the owner has told me since, that, 
on recollection, he has seen some of the same birds round 
his ponds in former summers. 

The next bird that I procured (on the 2ist of May) was 
a male red-backed butcher bird, lanius collurio. My 
neighbour, who shot it, says that it might easily have 
escaped his notice, had not the outcries and chattering of 
the white-throats and other small birds drawn his attention 
to the bush where it was : its craw was filled with the legs 
and wings of beetles. 

The next rare birds (which were procured for me last 
week) were some ring-ousels, turdi torquati. 

This week twelve months a gentleman from London, 
being with us, was amusing himself with a gun, and found, 
he told us, on an old yew hedge where there were berries, 
some birds like blackbirds, with rings of white round their 
necks : a neighbouring farmer also at the same time 
observed the same ; but, as no specimens were procured, 
little notice was taken. I mentioned this circumstance 
to you in my letter of November the 4th, 1767 : (you, 
however, paid but small regard to what I said, as I had 
not seen these birds myself:) but last week the aforesaid 


farmer, seeing a large flock, twenty or thirty of these 
birds, shot two cocks and two hens : and says, on recollec- 
tion, that he remembers to have observed these birds again 
last spring, about Lady-day, as it were, on their return to 
the north. Now perhaps these ousels are not the ousels of 
the north of England, but belong to the more northern 
parts of Europe ; and may retire before the excessive rigor 
of the frosts in those parts ; and return to breed in the 
spring, when the cold abates. If this be the case, here is 
discovered a new bird of winter passage, concerning whose 
migrations the writers are silent : but if these birds should 
prove the ousels of the north of England, then here is a 
migration disclosed within our own kingdom never before 
remarked. It does not yet appear whether they retire 
beyond the bounds of our island to the south ; but it is 
most probable that they usually do, or else one cannot 
suppose that they would have continued so long unnoticed 
in the southern counties. The ousel is larger than a black- 
bird, and feeds on haws ; but last autumn (when there 
were no haws) it fed on yew -berries : in the spring it feeds 
on ivy-berries, which ripen only at that season, in March 
and April. 

I must not omit to tell you (as you have been so lately 
on the study of reptiles) that my people, every now and 
then of late, draw up with a bucket of water from my well, 
which is 63 feet deep, a large black warty lizard with a 
fin-tail and yellow belly. How they first came down at 
that depth, and how they were ever to have got out thence 
without help, is more than I am able to say. 

My thanks are due to you for your trouble and care in 
the examination of a buck's head. As far as your dis- 
coveries reach at present, they seem much to corroborate 

my suspicions ; and I hope Mr. may find reason to 

give his decision in my favour ; and then, I think, we may 
advance this extraordinary provision of nature as a new 
instance of the wisdom of God in the creation. 

As yet I have not quite done with my history of the 
oedicnemus, or stone-curlew ; for I shall desire a gentleman 
in Sussex (near whose house these birds congregate in vast 


flocks in the autumn) to observe nicely when they leave 
him, (if they do leave him) and when they return again in 
the spring : I was with this gentleman lately, and saw 
several single birds. 



Selborne, Nov. 28, 1768. 


WITH regard to the oedicnemus^ or stone-curlew, I intend 
to write very soon to my friend near Chichester, in whose 
neighbourhood these birds seem most to abound ; and shall 
urge him to take particular notice when they begin to con- 
gregate, and afterwards to watch them most narrowly 
whether they do not withdraw themselves during the dead 
of the winter. When I have obtained information with 
respect to this circumstance, I shall have finished my 
history of the stone-curlew ; which I hope will prove to 
your satisfaction, as it will be, I trust, very near the truth. 
This gentleman, as he occupies a large farm of his own, 
and is abroad early and late, will be a very proper spy 
upon the motions of these birds : and besides, as I have 
prevailed on him to buy the Naturalist's Journal (with 
which he is much delighted), I shall expect that he will be 
very exact in his dates. It is very extraordinary, as you 
observe, that a bird so common with us should never 
straggle to you. 

And here will be the properest place to mention, while 
I think of it, an anecdote which the above-mentioned 
gentleman told me when I was last at his house ; which 
was that, in a warren joining to his outlet, many daws 
(corvi monedulae] build every year in the rabbit-burrows 
under ground. The way he and his brothers used to take 
their nests, while they were boys, was by listening at the 


mouths of the holes ; and, if they heard the young ones 
cry, they twisted the nest out with a forked stick. Some 
water-fowls (viz. the puffins) breed, I know, in that 
manner ; but I should never have suspected the daws of 
building in holes on the flat ground. 

Another very unlikely spot is made use of by daws as a 
place to breed in, and that is Stonehenge. These birds 
deposit their nests in the interstices between the upright 
and the impost stones of that amazing work of antiquity : 
which circumstance alone speaks the prodigious height of 
the upright stones, that they should be tall enough to 
secure those nests from the annoyance of shepherd-boys, 
who are always idling round that place. 

One of my neighbours last Saturday, November the 
26th, saw a martin in a sheltered bottom : the sun shone 
warm, and the bird was hawking briskly after flies. I am 
now perfectly satisfied that they do not all leave this island 
in the winter. 

You judge very right, I think, in speaking with reserve 
and caution concerning the cures done by toads : for, let 
people advance what they will on such subjects, yet there 
is such a propensity in mankind towards deceiving and 
being deceived, that one cannot safely relate any thing 
from common report, especially in print, without express- 
ing some degree of doubt and suspicion. 

Your approbation, with regard to my new discovery of 
the migration of the ring-ousel, gives me satisfaction ; and 
I find you concur with me in suspecting that they are 
foreign birds which visit us. You will be sure, I hope, not 
to omit to make inquiry whether your ring-ousels leave 
your rocks in the autumn. What puzzles me most, is the 
very short stay they make with us ; for in about three 
weeks they are all gone. I shall be very curious to remark 
whether they will call on us at their return in the spring, 
as they did last year. 

I want to be better informed with regard to ichthyology. 
If fortune had settled me near the sea-side, or near some 
great river, my natural propensity would soon have urged 
me to have made myself acquainted with their productions; 


but as I have lived mostly in inland parts, and in an upland 
district, my knowledge of fishes extends little farther than 
to those common sorts which our brooks and lakes produce. 

I am, etc. 



Selborne, Jan. 2, 1/69. 


As to the peculiarity of jackdaws building with us under 
the ground in rabbit-burrows, you have, in part, hit upon 
the reason ; for, in reality, there are hardly any towers or 
steeples in all this country. And perhaps, Norfolk ex- 
cepted, Hampshire and Sussex are as meanly furnished 
with churches as almost any counties in the kingdom. We 
have many livings of two or three hundred pounds a year, 
whose houses of worship make little better appearance 
than dovecots. When I first saw Northamptonshire, 
Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, and the fens of 
Lincolnshire, I was amazed at the number of spires which 
presented themselves in every point of view. As an 
admirer of prospects, I have reason to lament this want in 
my own country ; for such objects are very necessary 
ingredients in an elegant landscape. 

What you mention with respect to reclaimed toads 
raises my curiosity. An ancient author, though no 
naturalist, has well remarked that " Every kind of beasts, 
and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is 
tamed, and hath been tamed, of mankind." 1 

It is a satisfaction to me to find that a green lizard has 
actually been procured for you in Devonshire ; because it 
corroborates my discovery, which I made many years ago, 
of the same sort, on a sunny sandbank near Farnham, in 

1 James, chap. iii. 7. 


Surrey. I am well acquainted with the south hams of 
Devonshire ; and can suppose that district, from its 
southerly situation, to be a proper habitation for such 
animals in their best colours. 

Since the ring-ousels of your vast mountains do certainly 
not forsake them against winter, our suspicions that those 
which visit this neighbourhood about Michaelmas are not 
English birds, but driven from the more northern parts of 
Europe by the frosts, are still more reasonable : and it will 
be worth your pains to endeavour to trace from whence 
they come, and to inquire why they make so very short 
a stay. 

In your account of your error with regard to the two 
species of herons, you incidentally gave me great entertain- 
ment in your description of the heronry at Cressi-hall ; 
which is a curiosity I never could manage to see. Four- 
score nests of such a bird on one tree is a rarity which I 
would ride half as many miles to have a sight of. Pray be 
sure to tell me in your next whose seat Cressi-hall is, and 
near what town it lies. 1 I have often thought that those 
vast extents of fens have never been sufficiently explored. 
If half a dozen gentlemen, furnished with a good strength 
of water-spaniels, were to beat them over for a week, they 
would certainly mid more species. 

There is no bird, I believe, whose manners I have studied 
more than that of the caprimulgus (the goat-sucker), as it 
is a wonderful and curious creature: but I have always 
found that though sometimes it may chatter as it flies, as I 
know it does, yet in general it utters its jarring note 
sitting on a bough ; and I have for many an half hour 
watched it as it sat with its under mandible quivering, and 
particularly this summer. It perches usually on a bare 
twig, with its head lower than its tail, in an attitude well 
expressed by your draughtsman in the folio British 
Zoology. This bird is most punctual in beginning its 
song exactly at the close of day ; so exactly that I have 
known it strike up more than once or twice just at the 
report of the Portsmouth evening gun, which we can hear 

1 Cressi-hall is near Spalding, in Lincolnshire. 


when the weather is still. It appears to me past all doubt 
that its notes are formed by organic impulse, by the powers 
of the parts of its windpipe, formed for sound, just as cats 
pur. You will credit me, I hope, when I tell you that, as 
my neighbours were assembled in an hermitage on the side 
of a steep hill where we drink tea, one of these churn-owls 
came and settled on the cross of that little straw edifice and 
began to chatter, and continued his note for many minutes: 
and we were all struck with wonder to find that the organs 
of that little animal, when put in motion, gave a sensible 
vibration to the whole building ! This bird also sometimes 
makes a small squeak, repeated four or five times ; and I 
have observed that to happen when the cock has been 
pursuing the hen in a toying way through the boughs of 
a tree. 

It would not be at all strange if your bat, which you 
have procured, should prove a new one, since five species 
have been found in a neighbouring kingdom. The great 
sort that I mentioned is certainly a non-descript : I saw 
but one this summer, and that I had no opportunity of 

Your account of the Indian-grass was entertaining. I 
am no angler myself; but inquiring of those that are, what 
they supposed that part of their tackle to be made of r 
they replied " of the intestines of a silkworm." 

Though I must not pretend to great skill in entomology, 
yet I cannot say that I am ignorant of that kind of know- 
ledge : I may now and then, perhaps, be able to furnish 
you with a little information. 

The vast rains ceased with us much about the same time 
as with you, and since we have had delicate weather. Mr. 
Barker, who has measured the rain for more than thirty 
years, says, in a late letter, that more has fallen this year 
than in any he ever attended to; though, from July 1763 
to January 1764, more fell than in any seven months of 
this year. 




Selborne, February 28, 1769. 


IT is not improbable that the Guernsey lizard and our 
green lizards may be specifically the same ; all that I know 
is, that, when some years a g niany Guernsey lizards were 
turned loose in Pembroke college garden, in the university 
of Oxford, they lived a great while, and seemed to enjoy 
themselves very well, but never bred. Whether this 
circumstance will prove any thing either way I shall not 
pretend to say. 

I return you thanks for your account of Cressi-hall ; 
but recollect, not without regret, that in June 1746 I was 
visiting for a week together at Spalding, without ever being 
told that such a curiosity was just at hand. Pray send me 
word in your next what sort of tree it is that contains such 
a quantity of herons' nests ; and whether the heronry con- 
sists of a whole grove or wood, or only of a few trees. 

It gave me satisfaction to find that we accorded so well 
about the caprimulgus : all I contended for was to prove 
that it often chatters sitting as well as flying ; and therefore 
the noise was voluntary, and from organic impulse, and not 
from the resistance of the air against the hollow of its 
mouth and throat. 

If ever I saw anything like actual migration, it was last 
Michaelmas-day. I was travelling, and out early in the 
morning : at first there was a vast fog ; but, by the time 
that I was got seven or eight miles from home towards the 
coast, the sun broke out into a delicate warm day. We 
were then on a large heath or common, and I could dis- 
cern, as the mist began to break away, great numbers of 
swallows (hirundines rusticae] clustering on the stunted 
shrubs and bushes, as if they had roosted there all night. 
As soon as the air became clear and pleasant they all were 


on the wing at once ; and, by a placid and easy flight, pro- 
ceeded on southward towards the sea : after this I did not 
see any more flocks, only now and then a straggler. 

I cannot agree with those persons that assert that the 
swallow kind disappear some and some gradually, as they 
come, for the bulk of them seem to withdraw at once : 
only some stragglers stay behind a long while, and do 
never, there is the greatest reason to believe, leave this 
island. Swallows seem to lay themselves up, and to come 
forth in a warm day, as bats do continually of a warm 
evening, after they have disappeared for weeks. For a 
very respectable gentleman assured me that, as he was 
v/alking with some friends under Merton-wall on a 
remarkably hot noon, either in the last week in December 
or the first week in January, he espied three or four 
swallows huddled together on the moulding of one of the 
windows of that college. I have frequently remarked that 
swallows are seen later at Oxford than elsewhere : is it 
owing to the vast massy buildings of that place, to the 
many waters round it, or to what else ? 

When I used to rise in a morning last autumn, and see 
the swallows and martins clustering on the chimneys and 
thatch of the neighbouring cottages, I could not help being 
touched with a secret delight, mixed with some degree of 
mortification : with delight to observe with how much 
ardour and punctuality those poor little birds obeyed the 
strong impulse towards migration, or hiding, imprinted on 
their minds by their great Creator ; and with some degree 
of mortification, when I reflected that, after all our pains 
and inquiries, we are yet not quite certain to what regions 
they do migrate ; and are still farther embarrassed to find 
that some do not actually migrate at all. 

These reflections made so strong an impression on my 
imagination, that they became productive of a composition 
that may perhaps amuse you for a quarter of an hour when 
next I have the honour of writing to you. 




Selborne, May 29, 1769. 


THE scar abacus fullo I know very well, having seen it in 
collections; but have never been able to discover one wild 
in its natural state. Mr. Banks told me he thought it 
might be found on the sea-coast. 

On the thirteenth of April I went to the sheep-down, 
where the ring-ousels have been observed to make their 
appearance at spring and fall, in their way perhaps to the 
north or south ; and was much pleased to see three birds 
about the usual spot. We shot a cock and a hen ; they 
were plump and in high condition. The hen had but very 
small rudiments of eggs within her, which proves they are 
late breeders ; whereas those species of the thrush kind that 
remain with us the whole year have fledged young before 
that time. In their crops was nothing very distinguishable, 
but somewhat that seemed like blades of vegetables nearly 
digested. In autumn they feed on haws and yew-berries, 
and in the spring on ivy-berries. I dressed one of these 
birds, and found it juicy and well-flavoured. It is re- 
markable that they make but a few days' stay in their 
spring visit, but rest near a fortnight at Michaelmas. 
These birds, from the observations of three springs and two 
autumns, are most punctual in their return ; and exhibit 
a new migration unnoticed by the writers, who supposed 
they never were to be seen in any of the southern counties. 

One of my neighbours lately brought me a new salicaria, 
which at first I suspected might have proved your willow- 
lark, 1 but, on a nicer examination, it answered much better 
to the description of that species which you shot at Revesby, 
in Lincolnshire. My bird I describe thus : " It is a size 
less than the grasshopper-lark; the head, back, and coverts 
1 For this lalicaria see letter August 30, 1769. 


of the wings of a dusky brown, without those dark spots 
of the grasshopper-lark ; over each eye is a milk-white 
stroke ; the chin and throat are white, and the under parts 
of a yellowish- white ; the rump is tawny, and the feathers 
of the tail sharp-pointed ; the bill is dusky and sharp, and 
the legs are dusky; the hinder claw long and crooked." 
The person that shot it says that it sung so like a reed- 
sparrow that he took it for one; and that it sings all night: 
but this account merits farther inquiry. For my part, I 
suspect it is a second sort of locustella, hinted at by Dr. 
Derham, in Ray's Letters: see p. 108. He also procured 
me a grasshopper-lark. 

The question that you put with regard to those genera 
of animals that are peculiar to America, viz. how they came 
there, and whence ? is too puzzling for me to answer; and 
yet so obvious as often to have struck me with wonder. 
If one looks into the writers on that subject little satisfac- 
tion is to be found. Ingenious men will readily advance 
plausible arguments to support whatever theory they shall 
choose to maintain ; but then the misfortune is, every one's 
hypothesis is each as good as another's, since they are all 
founded on conjecture. The late writers of this sort, in 
whom may be seen all the arguments of those that have 
gone before, as I remember, stock America from the western 
coast of Africa and the south of Europe; and then break 
down the Isthmus that bridged over the Atlantic. But 
this is making use of a violent piece of machinery : it is a 
difficulty worthy of the interposition of a god ! " Incredulus 



equidem credo, quia sit divinitus illis 

Ingenium. VIRG. GEORG. 

WHEN day declining sheds a milder gleam, 

What time the may-fly 1 haunts the pool or stream ; 

1 The angler's may-fly, the ephemera vulgata Linn, comes forth from 
its aurelia state, and emerges out of the water about six in the evening, 


When the still owl skims round the grassy mead, 
What time the timorous hare limps forth to feed ; 
Then be the time to steal adown the vale, 
And listen to the vagrant 1 cuckoo's tale; 
To hear the clamorous 2 curlew call his mate, 
Or the soft quail his tender pain relate ; 
To see the swallow sweep the dark'ning plain 
Belated, to support her infant train ; 
To mark the swift in rapid giddy ring 
Dash round the steeple, unsubdu'd of wing : 
Amusive birds ! say where your hid retreat 
When the frost rages and the tempests beat ; 
Whence your return, by such nice instinct led, 
When spring, soft season, lifts her bloomy head ? 
Such baffled searches mock man's prying pride, 
The GOD of NATURE is your secret guide! 

While deep'ning shades obscure the face of day 
To yonder bench, leaf-shelter' d, let us stray, 
'Till blended objects fail the swimming sight, 
And all the fading landscape sinks in night ; 
To hear the drowsy dorr come brushing by 
With buzzing wing, or the shrill 3 cricket cry ; 
To see the feeding bat glance through the wood ; 
To catch the distant falling of the flood ; 
While o'er the cliff th' awakened churn-owl hung 
Through the still gloom protracts his chattering song ; 
While high in air, and pois'd upon his wings, 
Unseen, the soft enamour'd woodlark 4 sings: 
These, NATURE'S works, the curious mind employ, 

and dies about eleven at night, determining the date of its fly state in 
about five or six hours. They usually begin to appear about the 4th of 
June, and continue in succession for near a fortnight. See Swammer- 
dam, Derham, Scopoli, etc. 

1 Vagrant cuckoo ; so called because, being tied down by no incubation 
or attendance about the nutrition of its young, it wanders without con- 

2 Charadrlus Qedicnemus. 

3 Gryllus campestris. 

4 In hot summer nights woodlarks soar to a prodigious height, and hang 
singing in the air. 


Inspire a soothing melancholy joy : 

As fancy warms, a pleasing kind of pain 

Steals o'er the cheek, and thrills the creeping vein ! 

Each rural sight, each sound, each smell, combine ; 
The tinkling sheep-bell, or the breath of kine ; 
The new-mown hay that scents the swelling breeze, 
Or cottage-chimney smoking through the trees. 

The chilling night-dews fall : away, retire ; 
For see, the glow-worm lights her amorous fire ! l 
Thus, ere night's veil had half obscured the sky, 
Th' impatient damsel hung her lamp on high : 
True to the signal, by love's meteor led, 
Leander hasten'd to his Hero's bed. 2 

I am, etc. 



Selborne, Aug. 30, 1769. 


IT gives me satisfaction to find that my account of the 
ousel migration pleases you. You put a very shrewd 
question when you ask me how I know that their autumnal 
migration is southward ? Was not candour and openness 
the very life of natural history, I should pass over this 
query just as a sly commentator does over a crabbed 
passage in a classic ; but common ingenuousness obliges 
me to confess, not without some degree of shame, that I 
only reasoned in that case from analogy. For as all other 
autumnal birds migrate from the northward to us, to par- 
take of our milder winters, and return to the northward 
again when the rigorous cold abates, so I concluded that 

1 The light of the female glow-worm (as she often crawls up the stalk 
of a grass to make herself more conspicuous) is a signal to the male, which 
is a slender dusky scarabaeus. 

2 See the story of Hero and Leander. 


the ring-ousels did the same, as well as their congeners the 
fieldfares ; and especially as ring-ousels are known to haunt 
cold mountainous countries: but I have good reason to 
suspect since that they may come to us from the westward ; 
because I hear, from very good authority, that they breed 
on Dartmore; and that they forsake that wild district 
about the time that our visitors appear, and do not return 
till late in the spring. 

I have taken a great deal of pains about your salicaria 
and mine, with a white stroke over its eye, and a tawny 
rump. I have surveyed it alive and dead, and have pro- 
cured several specimens; and am perfectly persuaded 
myself (and trust you will soon be convinced of the same) 
that it is no more nor less than the passer arundinaceus minor 
of Ray. This bird, by some means or other, seems to be 
entirely omitted in the British Zoology; and one reason 
probably was because it is so strangely classed in Ray, who 
ranges it among his picis affines. It ought no doubt to 
have gone among his aviculae caudd unicolore, and among 
your slender-billed small birds of the same division. Lin- 
naeus might with great propriety have put it into his genus 
of motacilla ; and the motacilla salicaria of his fauna suecica 
seems to come the nearest to it. It is no uncommon bird, 
haunting the sides of ponds and rivers where there is covert, 
and the reeds and sedges of moors. The country people 
in some places call it the sedge-bird. It sings incessantly 
night and day during the breeding-time, imitating the note 
of a sparrow, a swallow, a sky-lark ; and has a strange 
hurrying manner in its song. My specimens correspond 
most minutely to the description of your fen salicaria shot 
near Revesby. Mr. Ray has given an excellent character- 
istic of it when he says, " Rostrum & pedes in Me avicula 
mulfb majores sunt quam pro corporis rationed See letter 
May 29, 1769. 

I have got you the egg of an oedicnemus, or stone-curlew, 
which was picked up in a fallow on the naked ground: 
there were two ; but the finder inadvertently crushed one 
with his foot before he saw them. 

When I wrote to you last year on reptiles, I wish I had 


not forgot to mention the faculty that snakes have of 
stinking se defendendo. I knew a gentleman who kept a 
tame snake, which was in its person as sweet as any animal 
while in a good humour and unalarmed ; but as soon as a 
stranger, or a dog or cat, came in, it fell to hissing, and 
filled the room with such nauseus effluvia as rendered it 
hardly supportable. Thus the squnck, or stonck, of Ray's 
Synop. Quadr. is an innocuous and sweet animal ; but, 
when pressed hard by dogs and men, it can eject such a 
most pestilent and fetid smell and excrement, that nothing 
can be more horrible. 

A gentleman sent me lately a fine specimen of the lanius 
minor ciner as c ens cum macula in scapulis alba, Raii ; which is a 
bird that, at the time of your publishing your two first 
volumes of British Zoology, I find you had not seen. You 
have described it well from Edwards's drawing. 


Selborne, December 8, 1769. 


I WAS much gratified by your communicative letter on your 
return from Scotland, where you spent, I find, some con- 
siderable time, and gave yourself good room to examine 
the natural curiosities of that extensive kingdom, both 
those of the islands, as well as those of the highlands. 
The usual bane of such expeditions is hurry ; because men 
seldom allot themselves half the time they should do : but, 
fixing on a day for their return, post from place to place, 
rather as if they were on a journey that required dispatch, 
than as philosophers investigating the works of nature. 
You must have made, no doubt, many discoveries, and laid 
up a good fund of materials for a future edition of the 
British Zoology ; and will have no reason to repent that 


you have bestowed so much pains on a part of Great-Britain 
that perhaps was never so well examined before. 

It has always been matter of wonder to me that field- 
fares, which are so congenerous to thrushes and blackbirds, 
should never choose to breed in England : but that they 
should not think even the highlands cold and northerly, 
and sequestered enough, is a circumstance still more 
strange and wonderful. The ring-ousel, you find, stays 
in Scotland the whole year round ; so that we have reason 
to conclude that those migrators that visit us for a short 
space every autumn do not come from thence. 

And here, I think, will be the proper place to mention 
that those birds were most punctual again in their migra- 
tion this autumn, appearing, as before, about the 3<Dth of 
September : but their flocks were larger than common, 
and their stay protracted somewhat beyond the usual time. 
If they came to spend the whole winter with us, as some of 
their congeners do, and then left us, as they do, in spring, 
I should not be so much struck with the occurrence, since 
it would be similar to that of the other winter birds of 
passage ; but when I see them for a fortnight at Michael- 
mas, and again for about a week in the middle of April, I 
am seized with wonder, and long to be informed whence 
these travellers come, and whither they go, since they seem 
to use our hills merely as an inn or baiting place. 

Your account of the greater brambling, or snow-fleck, 
is very amusing; and strange it is that such a short-winged 
bird should delight in such perilous voyages over the 
northern ocean ! Some country people in the winter time 
have every now and then told me that they have seen two 
or three white larks on our downs ; but, on considering 
the matter, I begin to suspect that these are some stragglers 
of the birds we are talking of, which sometimes perhaps 
may rove so far to the southward. 

It pleases me to find that white hares are so frequent on 
the Scottish mountains, and especially as you inform me 
that it is a distinct species ; for the quadrupeds of Britain 
are so few, that every new species is a great acquisition. 

The eagle-owl, could it be proved to belong to us, is so 


majestic a bird that it would grace our fauna much. I never 
was informed before where wild-geese are known to breed. 

You admit, I find, that I have proved your fen salicaria 
to be the lesser reed-sparrow of Ray ; and I think that 
you may be secure that I am right ; for I took very 
particular pains to clear up that matter, and had some fair 
specimens ; but, as they were not well preserved, they are 
decayed already. You will, no doubt, insert it in its 
proper place in your next edition. Your additional plates 
will much improve your work. 

De Buffbn, I know, has described the water shrew- 
mouse : but still I am pleased to find you have discovered 
it in Lincolnshire, for the reason I have given in the article 
on the white hare. 

As a neighbour was lately ploughing in a dry chalky 
field, far removed from any water, he turned out a 
water-rat, that was curiously laid up in an hybernaculum 
artificially formed of grass and leaves. At one end of the 
burrow lay above a gallon of potatoes regularly stowed, on 
which it was to have supported itself for the winter. But 
the difficulty with me is how this amphibius mus came to 
fix its winter station at such a distance from the water. 
Was it determined in its choice of that place by the mere 
accident of finding the potatoes which were planted there ; 
or is it the constant practice of the aquatic-rat to forsake 
the neighbourhood of the water in the colder months ? 

Though I delight very little in analogous reasoning, 
knowing how fallacious it is with respect to natural history; 
yet, in the following instance, I cannot help being inclined 
to think it may conduce towards the explanation of a 
difficulty that I have mentioned before, with respect to the 
invariable early retreat of the hirundo apus, or swift, so 
many weeks before its congeners ; and that not only with 
us, but also in Andalusia, where they also begin to retire 
about the beginning of August. 

The great large bat 1 (which by the by is at present a 

1 The little bat appears almost ever)' month in the year ; but I have 
never seen the large ones till the end of April, nor after July. They are 
most common in June, but never in any plenty : are a rare species with us. 


nondescript in England, and what I have never been able 
yet to procure) retires or migrates very early in the 
summer : it also ranges very high for its food, feeding in 
a different region of the air ; and that is the reason I never 
could procure one. Now this is exactly the case with the 
swifts ; for they take their food in a more exalted region 
than the other species, and are very seldom seen hawking 
for flies near the ground, or over the surface of the water. 
From hence I would conclude that these liirundines, and 
the larger bats, are supported by some sorts of high-flying 
gnats, scarabs, or phalaenae, that are of short continuance ; 
and that the short stay of these strangers is regulated by 
the defect of their food. 

By my journal it appears that curlews clamoured on to 
October the thirty-first ; since which I have not seen or 
heard any. Swallows were observed on to November the 


Selborne, Feb. 22, 1770. 


HEDGE-HOGS abound in my gardens and fields. The 
manner in which they eat their roots of the plantain in my 
grass-walks is very curious : with their upper mandible, 
which is much longer than their lower, they bore under the 
plant, and so eat the root off upwards, leaving the tuft of 
leaves untouched. In this respect they are serviceable, as 
they destroy a very troublesome weed ; but they deface the 
walks in some measure by digging little round holes. It 
appears, by the dung that they drop upon the turf, that 
beetles are no inconsiderable part of their food. In June last 
I procured a litter of four or five young hedge-hogs, which 
appeared to be about five or six days old ; they, I find, 
like puppies, are born blind, and could not see when they 


came to my hands. No doubt their spines are soft and 
flexible at the time of their birth, or else the poor dam 
would have .but a bad time of it in the critical moment of 
parturition : but it is plain that they soon harden ; for 
these little pigs had such stiff prickles on their backs and 
sides as would easily have fetched blood, had they not 
been handled with caution. Their spines are quite white 
at this age ; and they have little hanging ears, which I do 
not remember to be discernible in the old ones. They 
can, in part, at this age draw their skin down over their 
faces ; but are not able to contract themselves into a ball, 
as they do, for the sake of defence, when full grown. The 
reason, I suppose, is, because the curious muscle that 
enables the creature to roll itself up into a ball was not 
then arrived at its full tone and firmness. Hedge-hogs 
make a deep and warm hybernaculum with leaves and moss, 
in which they conceal themselves for the winter : but I 
never could find that they stored in any winter provision, 
as some quadrupeds certainly do. 

I have discovered an anecdote with respect to the field- 
fare (turdus pilaris\ which I think is particular enough : 
this bird, though it sits on trees in the day-time, and pro- 
cures the greatest part of its food from white-thorn hedges ; 
yea, moreover, builds on very high trees ; as may be seen 
by the fauna suecica ; yet always appears with us to roost 
on the ground. They are seen to come in flocks just before 
it is dark, and to settle and nestle among the heath on our 
forest. And besides, the larkers, in dragging their nets by 
night, frequently catch them in the wheat-stubbles ; while 
the bat-fowlers, who take many red-wings in the hedges, 
never entangle any of this species. Why these birds, in 
the matter of roosting, should differ from all their con- 
geners, and from themselves also with respect to their 
proceedings by day, is a fact for which I am by no means 
able to account. 

I have somewhat to inform you of concerning the moose- 
deer ; but in general foreign animals fall seldom in my 
way ; my little intelligence is confined to the narrow sphere 
of my own observations at home. 



Selborne, March, 1770. 

ON Michaelmas-day 1768 I managed to get a sight of the 
female moose belonging to the Duke of Richmond, at 
Goodwood ; but was greatly disappointed, when I arrived 
at the spot, to find that it died, after having appeared in a 
inguishing way for some time, on the morning before. 
However, understanding that it was not stripped, I pro- 
ceeded to examine this rare quadruped : I found it in an 
old green-house, slung under the belly and chin by ropes, 
and in a standing posture ; but, though it had been dead 
for so short a time, it was in so putrid a state that the 
stench was hardly supportable. The grand distinction 
between this deer, and any other species that I have ever 
met with, consisted in the strange length of its legs ; on 
which it was tilted up much in the manner of birds of the 
grallae order. I measured it, as they do an horse, and 
found that, from the ground to the wither, it was just five 
feet four inches ; which height answers exactly to sixteen 
hands, a growth that few horses arrive at : but then, with 
this length of legs, its neck was remarkably short, no more 
than twelve inches ; so that, by straddling with one foot 
forward and the other backward, it grazed on the plain 
ground, with the greatest difficulty, between its legs : the 
ears were vast and lopping, and as long as the neck ; the 
head was about twenty inches long, and ass-like ; and had 
such a redundancy of upper lip as I never saw before, with 
huge nostrils. This lip, travellers say, is esteemed a dainty 
dish in North America. It is very reasonable to suppose 
that this creature supports itself chiefly by browsing of 
trees, and by wading after water-plants ; towards which 
way of livelihood the length of leg and great lip must 
contribute much. I have read somewhere that it delights 
in eating the nymphaea, or water-lily. From the fore-feet 


to the belly behind the shoulder it measured three feet and 
eight inches : the length of the legs before and behind 
consisted a great deal in the tibia, which was strangely long ; 
but, in my. haste to get out of the stench, I forgot to 
measure that joint exactly. Its scut seemed to be about an 
inch long ; the colour was a grizzly black ; the mane about 
four inches long ; the fore-hoofs were upright and shapely, 
the hind flat and splayed. The spring before it was only 
two years old, so that most probably it was not then come 
to its growth. What a vast tall beast must a full-grown 
stag be ! I have been told some arrive at ten feet and an 
half! This poor creature had at first a female companion 
of the same species, which died the spring before. In the 
same garden was a young stag, or red deer, between whom 
and this moose it was hoped that there might have been a 
breed ; but their inequality of height must have always 
been a bar to any commerce of the amorous kind. I should 
have been glad to have examined the teeth, tongue, lips, 
hoofs, etc. minutely ; but the putrefaction precluded all 
further curiosity. This animal, the keeper told me, seemed 
to enjoy itself best in the extreme frost of the former 
winter. In the house they showed me the horn of a male 
moose, which had no front-antlers, but only a broad 
palm with some snags on the edge. The noble owner 
of the dead moose proposed to make a skeleton of her 

Please to let me hear if my female moose corresponds 
with that you saw ; and whether you think still that the 
American moose and European elk are the same creature. 
I am, 

With the greatest esteem, etc. 




Selborne, May 12, 1770. 


LAST month we had such a series of cold turbulent weather, 
such a constant succession of frost, and snow, and hail, and 
tempest, that the regular migration or appearance of the 
summer birds was much interrupted. Some did not show 
themselves (at least were not heard) till weeks after their 
usual time ; as the black-cap and white-throat ; and some 
have not been heard yet, as the grasshopper-lark and 
largest willow-wren. As to the fly-catcher, I have not 
seen it ; it is indeed one of the latest, but should appear 
about this time : and yet, amidst all this meteorous strife 
and war of the elements, two swallows discovered them- 
selves as long ago as the eleventh of April, in frost and 
snow ; but they withdrew quickly, and were not visible 
again for many days. House-martins, which are always 
more backward than swallows, were not observed till May 
came in. 

Among the monogamous birds several are to be found, 
after pairing-time, single, and of each sex : but whether 
this state of celibacy is matter of choice or necessity, is not 
so easily discoverable. When the house-sparrows deprive 
my martins of their nests, as soon as I cause one to be shot, 
the other, be it cock or hen, presently procures a mate, and 
so for several times following. 

I have known a dove-house infested by a pair of white 
owls, which made great havoc among the young pigeons : 
one of the owls was shot as soon as possible ; but the 
survivor readily found a mate, and the mischief went on. 
After some time the new pair were both destroyed, and the 
annoyance ceased. 

Another instance I remember of a sportsman, whose zeal 
for the increase of his game being greater than his humanity, 


after pairing-time he always shot the cock-bird of every 
couple of partridges upon his grounds ; supposing that the 
rivalry of many males interrupted the breed : he used to 
say, that, though he had widowed the same hen several 
times, yet he found she was still provided with a fresh 
paramour, that did not take her away from her usual 

Again ; I knew a lover of setting, an old sportsman, who 
has often told me that soon after harvest he has frequently 
taken small coveys of partridges, consisting of cock-birds 
alone ; these he pleasantly used to call old bachelors. 

There is a propensity belonging to common house- 
cats that is very remarkable ; I mean their violent fondness 
for fish, which appears to be their most favourite food : 
and yet nature in this instance seems to have planted in 
them an appetite that, unassisted, they know not how 
to gratify : for of all quadrupeds cats are the least disposed 
towards water ; and will not, when they can avoid it, deign 
to wet a foot, much less to plunge into that element. 

Quadrupeds that prey on fish are amphibious : such is 
the otter, which by nature is so well formed for diving, 
that it makes great havoc among the inhabitants of the 
waters. Not supposing that we had any of those beasts in 
our shallow brooks, I was much pleased to see a male 
otter brought to me, weighing twenty-one pounds, that 
had been shot on the bank of our stream below the Priory, 
where the rivulet divides the parish of Selborne from 



Selborne, Aug. I, 1770. 


THE French, I think, in general, are strangely prolix in 
their natural history. What Linnaeus says with respect 


to insects holds good in every other branch : " Verbositas 
prae sends saecu/i, calamitas artis" 

Pray how do you approve of Scopoli's new work ? As 
I admire his Entomologia, I long to see it. 

I forgot to mention in my last letter (and had not room 
to insert in the former) that the male moose, in rutting 
time, swims from island to island, in the lakes and rivers 
of North-America, in pursuit of the females. My friend, 
the chaplain, saw one killed in the water as it was on that 
errand in the river St. Lawrence : it was a monstrous beast, 
he told me ; but he did not take the dimensions. 

When I was last in town our friend Mr. Barrington 
most obligingly carried me to see many curious sights. 
As you were then writing to him about horns, he carried 
me to see many strange and wonderful specimens. There 
is, I remember, at Lord Pembroke's, at Wilton, an horn 
room furnished with more than thirty different pairs ; but 
I have not seen that house lately. 

Mr. Barrington showed me many astonishing collections 
of stuffed and living birds from all quarters of the world. 
After I had studied over the latter for a time, I remarked 
that every species almost that came from distant regions, 
such as South America, the coast of Guinea, etc. were 
thick-billed birds of the loxia and fringilla genera ; and no 
motacillae, or muscicapae, were to be met with. When I 
came to consider, the reason was obvious enough ; for the 
hard-billed birds subsist on seeds, which are easily carried 
on board ; while the soft-billed birds, which are supported 
by worms and insects, or, what is a succedaneum for them, 
fresh raw meat, can meet with neither in long and tedious 
voyages. It is from this defect of food that our collec- 
tions (curious as they are) are defective, and we are 
deprived of some of the most delicate and lively genera. 

I am, etc. 




Selborne, Sept. 14, 1770. 


You saw, I find, the ring-ousels again among their native 
crags ; and are farther assured that they continue resident 
in those cold regions the whole year. From whence, then, 
do our ring-ousels migrate so regularly every September, 
and make their appearance again, as if in their return, 
every April ? They are more early this year than common, 
for some were seen at the usual hill on the fourth of this 

An observing Devonshire gentleman tells me that they 
frequent some parts of Dartmoor, and breed there ; but 
leave those haunts about the end of September or begin- 
ning of October, and return again about the end of 

Another intelligent person assures me that they breed 
in great abundance all over the Peak of Derby, and are 
called there Tor-ousels ; withdraw in October and Novem- 
ber, and return in spring. This information seems to 
throw some light on my new migration. 

Scopoli's 1 new work (which I have just procured) has 
its merits in ascertaining many of the birds of the Tirol 
and Carniola. Monographers, come from whence they 
may, have, I think, fair pretence to challenge some regard 
and approbation from the lovers of natural history ; for, 
as no man can alone investigate all the works of nature, 
these partial writers may, each in their department, be 
more accurate in their discoveries, and freer from errors, 
than more general writers ; and so by degrees may pave 
the way to an universal correct natural history. Not that 
Scopoli is so circumstantial and attentive to the life and 
conversation of his birds as I could wish : he advances 

1 Annus Primus Historico-Naturalis. 


some false facts ; as when he says of the hirundo urbica 
that " pullos extra nidum non nutrit." This assertion I 
know to be wrong from repeated observation this summer ; 
for house-martins do feed their young flying, though it 
must be acknowledged not so commonly as the house- 
swallow ; and the feat is done in so quick a manner as 
not to be perceptible to indifferent observers. He also 
advances some (I was going to say) improbable facts ; 
as when he says of the woodcock that, ''pullos rostro portal 
fugiens ab hoste." But candour forbids me to say absolutely 
that any fact is false, because I have never been witness to 
such a fact. I have only to remark that the long unwieldy 
bill of the woodcock is perhaps the worst adapted of any 
among the winged creation for such a feat of natural 

I am, etc. 



Selborne, October, 29, 1770. 

AFTER an ineffectual search in Linnaeus, Brisson, etc. 
I begin to suspect that I discern my brother's hirundo 
hyberna in Scopoli's new discovered hirundo rupes- 
tris, p. 167. His description of ''Supra murina, subtus 
albida; rectrices macula o-vali alba in latere inferno; pedes 
nudi, nigri ; rostrum nigrum; remiges obscuriores quam 
plumae dor sales rectrices remigibus concolores ; caudd emargi- 
natd, nee forcipatd " ; agrees very well with the bird in 
question ; but when he comes to advance that it is " statura 
hirundinis urbicae" and that " definitio hirundinis ripariae 
Linnaei huic quoque convenit" he in some measure invali- 
dates all he has said ; at least he shows at once that he 
compares them to these species merely from memory : for 
I have compared the birds themselves, and find they differ 
widely in every circumstance of shape, size, and colour. 


However, as you will have a specimen, I shall be glad 
to hear what your judgment is in the matter. 

Whether my brother is forestalled in his non-descript or 
not, he will have the credit of first discovering that they 
spend their winters under the warm and sheltery shores of 
Gibraltar and Barbary. 

Scopoli's characters of his ordines and genera are clean, 
just, and expressive, and much in the spirit of Linnaeus. 
These few remarks are the result of my first perusal of 
Scopoli's Annus Primus. 

The bane of our science is the comparing one animal to 
the other by memory : for want of caution in this par- 
ticular, Scopoli falls into errors: he is not so full with regard 
to the manners of his indigenous birds as might be wished, 
as you justly observe: his Latin is easy, elegant, and ex- 
pressive, and very superior to Kramer's. 1 

I am pleased to see that my description of the moose 
corresponds so well with yours. 

I am, etc. 


Selborne, Nov. 26, 1770. 


I WAS much pleased to see, among the collection of birds 
from Gibraltar, some of those short-winged English summer 
birds of passage, concerning whose departure we have made 
so much inquiry. Now if these birds are found in Anda- 
lusia to migrate to and from Barbary, it may easily be 
supposed that those that come to us may migrate back to 
the continent, and spend their winters in some of the 
warmer parts of Europe. This is certain, that many soft- 
billed birds that come to Gibraltar appear there only in 
1 See his Elenchus vegetabiliura et animalium per Austriam inferiorem, etc. 


spring and autumn, seeming to advance in pairs towards 
the northward, for the sake of breeding during the summer 
months; and retiring in parties and broods toward the 
south at the decline of the year : so that the rock of 
Gibraltar is the great rendezvous, and place of observation, 
from whence they take their departure each way towards 
Europe or Africa. It is therefore no mean discovery, I 
think, to find that our small short-winged summer birds of 
passage are to be seen spring and autumn on the very skirts 
of Europe ; it is a presumptive proof of their emigrations. 

Scopoli seems to me to have found the hirundo melba^ 
the great Gibraltar swift, in Tirol, without knowing it. 
For what is his hirundo alpina but the afore-mentioned 
bird in other words ? Says he, " Omnia prioris" (meaning 
the swift;) " sed pectus album; paulo major prior e" I do 
not suppose this to be a new species. It is true also of 
the melba, that " nidificat in excelsis Alpium rupibus" Vid. 
Annum Primum. 

My Sussex friend, a man of observation and good sense, 
but no naturalist, to whom I applied on account of the 
stone-curlew, oedicnemus, sends me the following account : 
" In looking over my Naturalist's Journal for the month 
of April, I find the stone-curlews are first mentioned on 
the seventeenth and eighteenth, which date seems to me 
rather late. They live with us all the spring and summer, 
and at the beginning of autumn prepare to take leave by 
getting together in flocks. They seem to me a bird of 
passage that may travel into some dry hilly country south 
of us, probably Spain, because of the abundance of sheep- 
walks in that country ; for they spend their summers with 
us in such districts. This conjecture I hazard, as I have 
never met with any one that has seen them in England in 
the winter. I believe they are not fond of going near the 
water, but feed on earth-worms, that are common on 
sheep-walks and downs. They breed on fallows and lay- 
fields abounding with grey mossy flints, which much 
resemble their young in colour ; among which they skulk 
and conceal themselves. They make no nest, but lay their 
eggs on the bare ground, producing in common but two at 


a time^ There is reason to think their young run soon 
after they are hatched ; and that the old ones do not feed 
them, but only lead them about at the time of feeding, 
which, for the most part, is in the night." Thus far my 

In the manners of this bird you see there is something very 
analogous to the bustard, whom it also somewhat resembles 
in aspect and make, and in the structure of its feet. 

For a long time I have desired my relation to look out 
for these birds in Andalusia ; and now he writes me word 
that, for the first time, he saw one dead in the market on 
the 3rd of September. 

When the oedicnemus flies it stretches out its legs straight 
behind, like an heron. 

I am, etc. 



Selborne, March 30, 1771. 


THERE is an insect with us, especially on chalky districts, 
which is very troublesome and teasing all the latter end of 
the summer, getting into people's skins, especially those of 
women and children, and raising tumours which itch 
intolerably. This animal (which we call an harvest bug) is 
very minute, scarce discernible to the naked eye ; of a 
bright scarlet colour, and of the genus of Acarus. They 
are to be met with in gardens on kidneybeans, or any 
legumens ; but prevail only in the hot months of summer. 
Warreners, as some have assured me, are much infested by 
them on chalky downs ; where these insects swarm some- 
times to so infinite a degree as to discolour their nets, and 
to give them a reddish cast, while the men are so bitten as 
to be thrown into fevers. 


There is a small long shining fly in these parts very 
troublesome to the housewife, by getting into the chimneys, 
and laying its eggs in the bacon while it is drying : these 
eggs produce maggots called jumpers, which, harbouring 
in the gammons and best parts of the hogs, eat down to 
the bone, and make great waste. This fly I suspect to be 
a variety of the musca putris of Linnaeus : it is to be seen 
in the summer in the. farm-kitchens on the bacon-racks and 
about the mantelpieces, and on the ceilings. 

The insect that infests turnips and many crops in the 
garden (destroying often whole fields while in their seedling 
leaves) is an animal that wants to be better known. The 
country people here call it the turnip-fly and black dolphin; 
but I know it to be one of the cokoptera\ the " chrysomela 
oleracea, saltatoria, femoribus posticis crassissimis " In very 
hot summers they abound to an amazing degree, and, 
as you walk in a field or in a garden, make a pattering 
like rain, by jumping on the leaves of the turnips or 

There is an Oestrus, known in these parts to every 
ploughboy ; which, because it is omitted by Linnaeus, is 
also passed over by late writers, and that is the curvicauda 
of old Moufet, mentioned by Derham in his Physico- 
theology, p. 250: an insect worthy of remark for depositing 
its eggs as it flies in so dextrous a manner on the single 
hairs of the legs and flanks of grass-horses. But then 
Derham is mistaken when he advances that this Oestrus is 
the parent of that wonderful star-tailed maggot which he 
mentions afterwards; for more modern entomologists have 
discovered that singular production to be derived from the 
egg of the musca chamaeleon : see Geoffrey, t. 17, f. 4. 

A full history of noxious insects hurtful in the field, 
garden, and house, suggesting all the known and likely 
means of destroying them, would be allowed by the public 
to be a most useful and important work. What know- 
ledge there is of this sort lies scattered, and wants to be 
collected ; great improvements would soon follow of 
course. A knowledge of the properties, oeconomy, pro- 
pagation, and in short of the life and conversation of these 


animals, is a necessary step to lead us to some method of 
preventing their depredations. 

As far as ~I am a judge, nothing would recommend 
entomology more than some neat plates that should well 
express the generic distinctions of insects according to 
Linnaeus ; for I am well assured that many people would 
study insects, could they set out with a more adequate 
notion of those distinctions than can be conveyed at first 
by words alone. 



Sel borne, 1771. 


HAPPENING to make a visit to my neighbour's peacocks, I 
could not help observing that the trains of those mag- 
nificent birds appear by no means to be their tails ; those 
long feathers growing not from their uropygium, but all up 
their backs. A range of short brown stiff feathers, about 
six inches long, fixed in the uropygium, is the real tail, and 
serves as the fulcrum to prop the train, which is long and 
top-heavy, when set on end. When the train is up, 
nothing appears of the bird before but its head and neck ; 
but this would not be the case were those long feathers 
fixed only in the rump, as may be seen by the turkey-cock 
when in a strutting attitude. By a strong muscular 
vibration these birds can make the shafts of their long 
feathers clatter like the swords of a sword-dancer; they 
then trample very quick with their feet, and run backwards 
towards the females. 

I should tell you that I have got an uncommon calculus 
aegogropila, taken out of the stomach of a fat ox ; it is 
perfectly round, and about the size of a large Seville 
orange ; such are, I think, usually flat. 




Sept. 1771. 

THE summer through I have seen but two of that large 
species of bat which I call vespertilio altivolam, from its 
manner of feeding high in the air : I procured one of 
them, and found it to be a male ; and made no doubt, as 
they accompanied together, that the other was a female : 
but, happening in an evening or two to procure the other 
likewise, I was somewhat disappointed, when it appeared 
to be also of the same sex. This circumstance, and the 
great scarcity of this sort, at least in these parts, occasions 
some suspicions in my mind whether it is really a species, 
or whether it may not be the male part of the more known 
species, one of which may supply many females; as is known 
to be the case in sheep, and some other quadrupeds. But 
this doubt can only be cleared by a farther examination, 
and some attention to the sex, of more specimens : all 
that I know at present is, that my two were amply 
furnished with the parts of generation much resembling 
those of a boar. 

In the extent of their wings they measured fourteen 
inches and an half: and four inches and an half from the 
nose to the tip of the tail : their heads were large, their 
nostrils bilobated, their shoulders broad and muscular; 
and their whole bodies fleshy and plump. Nothing could 
be more sleek and soft than their fur, which was of a 
bright chestnut colour ; their maws were full of food, but 
so macerated that the quality could not be distinguished ; 
their livers, kidnies, and hearts, were large, and their 
bowels covered with fat. They weighed each, when 
entire, full one ounce and one drachm. Within the ear 
there was somewhat of a peculiar structure that I did not 
understand perfectly; but refer it to the observation of 


the curious anatomist. These creatures sent forth a very 
rancid and offensive smell. 


Sel borne, 1771. 


ON the twelfth of July I had a fair opportunity of con- 
templating the motions of the ca-primulgus, or fern-owl, as 
it was playing round a large oak that swarmed with 
scarabaei solstitiales, or fern-chafers. The powers of its 
wing were wonderful, exceeding, if possible, the various 
evolutions and quick turns of the swallow genus. But the 
circumstance that pleased me most was that I saw it 
distinctly, more than once, put out its short leg while on 
the wing, and, by a bend of the head, deliver somewhat 
into its mouth. If it takes any part of its prey with its 
foot, as I have now the greatest reason to suppose it does 
these chafers, I no longer wonder at the use of its middle 
toe, which is curiously furnished with a serrated claw. 

Swallows and martins, the bulk of them I mean, have 
forsaken us sooner this year than usual ; for, on September 
the twenty-second, they rendezvoused in a neighbour's 
walnut-tree, where it seemed probable they had taken up 
their lodging for the night. At the dawn of the day, 
which was foggy, they arose all together in infinite 
numbers, occasioning such a rushing from the strokes of 
their wings against the hazy air, as might be heard to a 
considerable distance : since that no flock has appeared, 
only a few stragglers. 

Some swifts staid late, till the twenty-second of August 
a rare instance! for they usually withdraw within the 
first week. 1 

1 See letter liii. to Mr. Barrington. 


On September the twenty-fourth three or four ring- 
ousels appeared in my fields for the first time this season : 
how punctual are these visitors in their autumnal and 
spring migrations! 



Selborne, March 15, 1773. 


BY my journal for last autumn it appears that the house- 
martins bred very late, and staid very late in these parts ; 
for, on the first of October, I saw young martins in their 
nests nearly fledged ; and again, on the twenty-first 
of October, we had at the next house a nest full of young 
martins just ready to fly ; and the old ones were hawking 
for insects with great alertness. The next morning the 
brood forsook their nest, and were flying round the village. 
From this day I never saw one of the swallow kind till 
November the third; when twenty, or perhaps thirty, 
house-martins were playing all day long by the side of the 
hanging wood, and over my fields. Did these small weak 
birds, some of which were nestlings twelve days ago, shift 
their quarters at this late season of the year to the other 
side of the northern tropic? Or rather, is it not more 
probable that the next church, ruin, chalk-cliff, steep 
covert, or perhaps sandbank, lake or pool (as a more 
northern naturalist would say), may become their hyber- 
naculum, and afford them a ready and obvious retreat ? 

We now begin to expect our vernal migration of ring- 
ousels every week. Persons worthy of credit assure me 
that ring-ousels were seen at Christmas 1770 in the forest 
of Bere, on the southern verge of this county. Hence we 
may conclude that their migrations are only internal, and 
not extended to the continent southward, if they do at first 


come at all from the northern parts of this island only, and 
not from the north of Europe. Come from whence 
they will, it is plain, from the fearless disregard that they 
show for men or guns, that they have been little accustomed 
to places of much resort. Navigators mention that in the 
Isle of Ascension, and other such desolate districts, birds 
are so little acquainted with the human form that they 
settle on men's shoulders ; and have no more dread of a 
sailor than they would have of a goat that was grazing. A 
young man at Lewes, in Sussex, assured me that about 
seven years ago ring-ousels abounded so about that town 
in the autumn that he killed sixteen himself in one after- 
noon : he added farther, that some had appeared since in 
every autumn ; but he could not find that any had been 
observed before the season in which he shot so many. I 
myself have found these birds in little parties in the autumn 
cantoned all along the Sussex downs, wherever there were 
shrubs and bushes, from Chichester to Lewes ; particularly 
in the autumn of 1770. 

I am, etc. 



Selborne, Nov. 9, 1773. 


As you desire me to send you such observations as may 
occur, I take the liberty of making the following remarks, 
that you may, according as you think me right or wrong, 
admit or reject what I here advance, in your intended new 
edition of the British Zoology. 

The osprey 1 was shot about a year ago at Frinsham-pond, 
a great lake, at about six miles from hence, while it was 
sitting on the handle of a plough and devouring a fish : it 

1 British Zoology, vol. i. p. 128. 


used to precipitate itself into the water, and so take its prey 
by surprise. 

A great ash-coloured butcher-bird 1 was shot last winter 
in Tisted-park, and a red-backed butcher-bird at Selborne : 
they are rarae aves in this country. 

Crows 2 go in pairs the whole year round. 

Cornish choughs 3 abound, and breed on Beachy-head 
and on all the cliffs of the Sussex coast. 

The common wild pigeon, 4 or stock-dove, is a bird of 
passage in the south of England, seldom appearing till 
towards the end of November ; is usually the latest winter 
bird of passage. Before our beechen woods were so much 
destroyed we had myriads of them, reaching in strings for 
a mile together as they went out in a morning to feed. 
They leave us early in spring ; where do they breed ? 

The people of Hampshire and Sussex call the missel-bird 5 
the storm-cock, because it sings early in the spring in blow- 
ing showery weather ; its song often commences with the 
year : with us it builds much in orchards. 

A gentleman assures me that he has taken the nests of 
ring-ousels 6 on Dartmoor : they build in banks on the sides 
of streams. 

Titlarks 7 not only sing sweetly as they sit on trees, but 
also as they play and toy about on the wing ; and particu- 
larly while they are descending, and sometimes as they 
stand on the ground. 

Adanson's 8 testimony seems to me to be a very poor 
evidence that European swallows migrate during our winter 
to Senegal : he does not talk at all like an ornithologist ; 
and probably saw only the swallows of that country, which 
I know build within Governor O'Hara's hall against the 
roof. Had he known European swallows, would he not 
have mentioned the species ? 

The house-swallow washes by dropping into the water as 
it flies : this species appears commonly about a week before 
the house-martin, and about ten or twelve days before the 

1 British Zoology, vol. i. p. 161. 2 p. 167. 3 p. 198. 

4 p. 216, 5 p. 224. 6 p. 229. 7 Vol. ii. p. 237. s p. 242. 


In 1772 there were young house-martins 1 in their nest till 
October the twenty-third. 

The swift 2 appears about ten or twelve days later than 
the house-swallow : viz. about the twenty-fourth or twenty- 
sixth of April. 

Whin-chats and stone-chatters 3 stay with us the whole 

Some wheat-ears 4 continue with us the winter through. 

Wagtails, all sorts, remain with us all the winter. 

Bulfinches, 5 when fed on hempseed, often become wholly 

We have vast flocks of female chaffinches 6 all the winter, 
with hardly any males among them. 

When you say that in breeding time the cock-snipes 7 
make a bleating noise, and I a drumming (perhaps I should 
have rather said an humming), I suspect we mean the same 
thing. However, while they are playing about on the 
wing they certainly make a loud piping with their mouths : 
but whether that bleating or humming is ventriloquous, or 
proceeds from the motion of their wings, I cannot say ; but 
this I know, that when this noise happens the bird is always 
descending, and his wings are violently agitated. 

Soon after the lapwings 8 have done breeding they con- 
gregate, and, leaving the moors and marshes, betake them- 
selves to downs and sheep-walks. 

Two years ago 9 last spring the little auk was found 
alive and unhurt, but fluttering and unable to rise, in a lane 
a few miles from Alresford, where there is a great lake : it 
was kept awhile, but died. 

I saw young teals 10 taken alive in the ponds of Wolmer- 
forest in the beginning of July last, along with flappers, or 
young wild ducks. 

Speaking of the swift, 11 that page says "its drink the 
dew" ; whereas it should be "it drinks on the wing" ; 
for all the swallow kind sip their water as they sweep over 
the face of pools or rivers : like Virgil's bees, they drink 

British Zoology, vol. ii. p. 244. 2 p. 245. 8 pp. 270, 271. 

4 p. 269. 5 p. 300. 6 p. 306. 7 p. 358. s p. 360. 
9 P- 49- 10 P-475- n P- 15- 


flying, "flumina summa lib ant" In this method of drink- 
ing perhaps this genus may be peculiar. 

Of the sedge-bird * be pleased to say it sings most part 
of the night ; its notes are hurrying, but not unpleasing, 
and imitative of several birds ; as the sparrow, swallow, 
sky-lark. When it happens to be silent in the night, by 
throwing a stone or clod into the bushes where it sits you 
immediately set it a-singing ; or in other words, though 
it slumbers sometimes, yet as soon as it is awakened it 
reassumes its song. 



Selborne, Sept. 2, 1774. 


BEFORE your letter arrived, and of my own accord, I had 
been remarking and comparing the tails of the male and 
female swallow, and this ere any young broods appeared ; 
so that there was no danger of confounding the dams with 
their pulli : and besides, as they were then always in pairs, 
and busied in the employ of nidification, there could be no 
room for mistaking the sexes, nor the individuals of 
different chimneys the one for the other. From all my 
observations, it constantly appeared that each sex has the 
long feathers in its tail that give it that forked shape ; with 
this difference, that they are longer in the tail of the male 
than in that of the female. 

Nightingales, when their young first come abroad, and 
are helpless, make a plaintive and a jarring noise ; and also 
a snapping or cracking, pursuing people along the hedges 
as they walk : these last sounds seem intended for menace 
and defiance. 

The grasshopper-lark chirps all night in the height of 

1 British Zoology, vol. ii. p. 1 6. 


Swans turn white the second year, and breed the third. 

Weasels prey on moles, as appears by their being some- 
times caught in mole-traps. 

Sparrow-hawks sometimes breed in old crows' nests, and 
the kestril in churches and ruins. 

There are supposed to be two sorts of eels in the island 
of Ely. The threads sometimes discovered in eels are 
perhaps their young : the generation of eels is very dark 
and mysterious. 

Hen-harriers breed on the ground, and seem never to 
settle on trees. 

When redstarts shake their tails they move them hori- 
zontally, as dogs do when they fawn : the tail of a wagtail, 
when in motion, bobs up and down like that of a jaded 

Hedge-sparrows have a remarkable flirt with their wings 
in breeding-time ; as soon as frosty mornings come they 
make a very piping plaintive noise. 

Many birds which become silent about Midsummer 
reassume their notes again in September ; as the thrush, 
blackbird, woodlark, willow-wren, etc. ; hence August is 
by much the most mute month, the spring, summer, and 
autumn through. Are birds induced to sing again because 
the temperament of autumn resembles that of spring ? 

Linnaeus ranges plants geographically ; palms inhabit 
the tropics, grasses the temperate zones, and mosses and 
lichens the polar circles ; no doubt animals may be classed 
in the same manner with propriety. 

House-sparrows build under eaves in the spring ; as the 
weather becomes hotter they get out for coolness, and nest 
in plum-trees and apple-trees. These birds have been 
known sometimes to build in rooks' nests, and sometimes 
in the forks of boughs under rooks' nests. 

As my neighbour was housing a rick he observed that 
his dogs devoured all the little red mice that they could 
catch, but rejected the common mice ; and that his cats 
ate the common mice refusing the red. 

Red-breasts sing all through the spring, summer, and 
autumn. The reason that they are called autumn songsters 


is, because in the two first seasons their voices are drowned 
and lost in the general chorus ; in the latter their song 
becomes distinguishable. Many songsters of the autumn 
seem to be the young cock red-breasts of that year : not- 
withstanding the prejudices in their favour, they do much 
mischief in gardens to the summer-fruits. x 

The titmouse, which early in February begins to make 
two quaint notes, like the whetting of a saw, is the marsh 
titmouse : the great titmouse sings with three cheerful 
joyous notes, and begins about the same time. 

Wrens sing all the winter through, frost excepted. 

House-martins came remarkably late this year both in 
Hampshire and Devonshire : is this circumstance for or 
against either hiding or migration ? 

Most birds drink sipping at intervals ; but pigeons take 
a long continued draught, like quadrupeds. 

Notwithstanding what I have said in a former letter, no 
grey crows were ever known to breed on Dartmoor ; it was 
my mistake. 

The appearance and flying of the scarabaeus solstitialis^ or 
fern-chafer, commence with the month of July, and cease 
about the end of it. These scarabs are the constant food 
of caprimulgi, or fern-owls, through that period. They 
abound on the chalky downs and in some sandy districts, 
but not in the clays. 

In the garden of the Black-bear inn in the town of 
Reading is a stream or canal running under the stables and 
out into the fields on the other side of the road : in this 
water are many carps, which lie rolling about in sight, 
being fed by travellers, who amuse themselves by tossing 
them bread : but as soon as the weather grows at all severe 
these fishes are no longer seen, because they retire under 
the stables, where they remain till the return of spring. 
Do they lie in a torpid state ? if they do not, how are they 
supported ? 

The note of the white-throat, which is continually 
repeated, and often attended with odd gesticulations on the 

lr They eat also the berries of the ivy, the honey-suckle, and the euony- 
mus turopaeus, or spindle-tree, 


wing, is harsh and displeasing. These birds seem of a 
pugnacious disposition ; for they sing with an erected crest 
and attitudes of rivalry and defiance ; are shy and wild in 
breeding-time, .avoiding neighbourhoods, and haunting 
lonely lanes and commons ; nay even the very tops of the 
Sussex-downs, where there are bushes and covert ; but in 
July and August they bring their broods into gardens and 
orchards, and make great havoc among the summer- 

The black-cap has in common a full, sweet, deep, loud, 
and wild pipe ; yet that strain is of short continuance, and 
his motions are desultory ; but when that bird sits calmly 
and engages in song in earnest, he pours forth very sweet, 
but inward melody, and expresses great variety of soft and 
gentle modulations, superior perhaps to those of any of our 
warblers, the nightingale excepted. 

Black-caps mostly haunt orchards and gardens ; while 
they warble their throats are wonderfully distended. 

The song of the redstart is superior, though somewhat 
like that of the white-throat : some birds have a few more 
notes than others. Sitting very placidly on the top of a 
tall tree in a village, the cock sings from morning to 
night : he affects neighbourhoods, and avoids solitude, 
and loves to build in orchards and about houses ; with us 
he perches on the vane of a tall maypole. 

The fly-catcher is of all our summer birds the most 
mute and the most familiar; it also appears the last of 
any. It builds in a vine, or a sweetbriar, against the wall 
of an house, or in the hole of a wall, or on the end of a 
beam or plate, and often close to the post of a door where 
people are going in and out all day long. This bird 
does not make the least pretension to song, but uses a 
little inward wailing note when it thinks its young in 
danger from cats or other annoyances : it breeds but once, 
and retires early. 

Selborne parish alone can and has exhibited at times 
more than half the birds that are ever seen in all Sweden ; 
the former has produced more than one hundred and 
twenty species, the latter only two hundred and twenty- 


one. Let me add also that it has shown near half the 
species that were ever known in Great Britain. 1 

On a retrospect, I observe that my long letter carries 
with it a quaint and magisterial air, and is very sententious : 
but, when I recollect that you requested stricture and 
anecdote, I hope you will pardon the didactic manner for 
the sake of the information it may happen to contain. 



IT is matter of curious inquiry to trace out how those 
species of soft-billed birds, that continue with us the 
winter through, subsist during the dead months. The 
imbecility of birds seems not to be the only reason why 
they shun the rigour of our winters ; for the robust wry- 
neck (so much resembling the hardy race of wood-peckers) 
migrates, while the feeble little golden-crowned wren, 
that shadow of a bird, braves our severest frosts without 
availing himself of houses or villages, to which most of our 
winter birds crowd in distressful seasons, while this keeps 
aloof in fields and woods ; but perhaps this may be the 
reason why they may often perish, and why they are almost 
as rare as any bird we know. 

I have no reason to doubt but that the soft-billed birds, 
which winter with us, subsist chiefly on insects in their 
aurelia state. All the species of wagtails in severe weather 
haunt shallow streams near their spring-heads, where they 
never freeze ; and, by wading, pick out the aurelias of the 
genus of Phryganeae? etc. 

Hedge-sparrows frequent sinks and gutters in hard 
weather, where they pick up crumbs and other sweepings : 
and in mild weather they procure worms, which are 

Sweden, 221, Great-Britain, 252 species. 
2 See Derham's Physico-theology, p. 235. 


stirring every month in the year, as any one may see 
that will only be at the trouble of taking a candle to a 
grass-plot on any mild winter's night. Red-breasts and 
wrens in the winter haunt out-houses, stables, and barns, 
where they find spiders and flies that have laid themselves 
up during the cold season. But the grand support of the 
soft-billed birds in winter is that infinite profusion of 
aureliae of the lepidoptera ordo, which is fastened to the 
twigs of trees and their trunks ; to the pales and walls of 
gardens and buildings ; and is found in every cranny and 
cleft of rock or rubbish, and even in the ground itself. 

Every species of titmouse winters with us ; they have 
what I call a kind of intermediate bill between the hard 
and the soft, between the Linnaean genera of fringilla and 
molacilla. One species alone spends its whole time in 
the woods and fields, never retreating for succour in the 
severest seasons to houses and neighbourhoods ; and that 
is the delicate long-tailed titmouse, which is almost as 
minute as the golden-crowned wren : but the blue tit- 
mouse, or nun (parus caeruleus}, the cole-mouse (parus 
ater\ the great black-headed titmouse (fringillago\ and the 
marsh titmouse (parus palustris}, all resort, at times, to 
buildings; and in hard weather particularly. The great 
titmouse, driven by stress of weather, much frequents 
houses, and, in deep snows, I have seen this bird, while it 
hung with its back downwards (to my no small delight and 
admiration), draw straws lengthwise from out the eaves of 
thatched houses, in order to pull out the flies that were 
concealed between them, and that in such numbers that 
they quite defaced the thatch, and gave it a ragged 

The blue titmouse, or nun, is a great frequenter of 
houses, and a general devourer. Beside insects, it is very 
fond of flesh ; for it frequently picks bones on dunghills : 
it is a vast admirer of suet, and haunts butchers' shops. 
When a boy, I have known twenty in a morning caught 
with snap mousetraps, baited with tallow or suet. It will 
also pick holes in apples left on the ground, and be well 
entertained with the seeds on the head of a sun-flower, 


The blue, marsh, and great titmice will, in very severe 
weather, carry away barley and oat straws from the sides 
of ricks. 

How the wheat-ear and whin-chat support themselves in 
winter cannot be so easily ascertained, since they spend 
their time on wild heaths and warrens ; the former 
especially, where there are stone quarries : most probably 
it is that their maintenance arises from the aureliae of the 
lepidoptera ordo, which furnish them with a plentiful table 
in the wilderness. 

I am, etc. 



Sel borne, March 9, 1775. 


SOME future faunist, a man of fortune, will, I hope, extend 
his visits to the kingdom of Ireland ; a new field, and a 
country little known to the naturalist. He will not, it is 
to be wished, undertake that tour unaccompanied by a 
botanist, because the mountains have scarcely been 
sufficiently examined ; and the southerly counties of so 
mild an island may possibly afford some plants little to be 
expected within the British dominions. A person of a 
thinking turn of mind will draw many just remarks from 
the modern improvements of that country, both in arts 
and agriculture, where premiums obtained long before 
they were heard of with us. The manners of the wild 
natives, their superstitions, their prejudices, their sordid 
way of life, will extort from him many useful reflections. 
He should also take with him an able draughtsman ; 
for he must by no means pass over the noble castles and 
seats, the extensive and picturesque lakes and water-falls, 
and the lofty stupendous mountains, so little known, and 


so engaging to the imagination when described and exhibited 
in a lively manner : such a work would be well received. 

As I have seen no modern map of Scotland, I cannot 
pretend to say how accurate or particular any such may be; 
but this I know, that the best old maps of that kingdom 
are very defective. 

The great obvious defect that I have remarked in all 
maps of Scotland that have fallen in my way is, a want of 
a coloured line, or stroke, that shall exactly define the just 
limits of that district called The Highlands. Moreover, all 
the great avenues to that mountainous and romantic country 
want to be well distinguished. The military roads formed by 
general Wade are so great and Roman-like an undertaking 
that they well merit attention. My old map, Moll's Map, 
takes notice of Fort William; but could not mention the other 
forts that have been erected long since : therefore a good 
representation of the chain of forts should not be omitted. 

The celebrated zigzag up the Coryarich must not be 

Ced over. Moll takes notice of Hamilton and Drum- 
ig, and such capital houses ; but a new survey, no 
doubt, should represent every seat and castle remarkable 
for any great event, or celebrated for its paintings, etc. 
Lord Breadalbane's seat and beautiful policy are too curious 
and extraordinary to be omitted. 

The seat of the Earl of Eglintoun, near Glasgow, is 
worthy of notice. The pine plantations of that nobleman 
are very grand and extensive indeed. 

I am, etc. 




A PAIR of honey-buzzards, buteo apivorus, sive vespi-vorus 
Raii, built them a large shallow nest, composed of twigs 


and lined with dead beechen leaves, upon a tall slender 
beech near the middle of Selborne-hanger, in the summer 
of 1780. In the middle of the month of June a bold boy 
climbed this tree, though standing on so steep and dizzy a 
situation, and brought down an egg, the only one in the 
nest, which had been sat on for some time, and contained 
the embrio of a young bird. The egg was smaller, and 
not so round as those of the common buzzard ; was dotted 
at each end with small red spots, and surrounded in the 
middle with a broad bloody zone. 

The hen-bird was shot, and answered exactly to Mr. 
Ray's description of that species ; had a black cere, short 
thick legs, and a long tail. When on the wing this species 
may be easily distinguished from the common buzzard by 
its hawk-like appearance, small head, wings not so blunt, 
and longer tail. This specimen contained in its craw some 
limbs of frogs, and many grey snails without shells. The 
irides of the eyes of this bird were of a beautiful bright 
yellow colour. 

About the tenth of July in the same summer a pair of 
sparrow-hawks bred in an old crow's nest on a low beech 
in the same hanger ; and as their brood, which was nume- 
rous, began to grow up, became so daring and ravenous, 
that they were a terror to all the dames in the village that 
had chickens or ducklings under their care. A boy climbed 
the tree, and found the young so fledged that they all 
escaped from him ; but discovered that a good house had 
been kept : the larder was well-stored with provisions ; for 
he brought down a young blackbird, jay, and house-martin, 
all clean picked, and some half devoured. The old birds 
had been observed to make sad havoc for some days 
among the new-flown swallows and martins, which, being 
but lately out of their nests, had not acquired those powers 
and command of wing that enable them, when more 
mature, to set such enemies at defiance. 




Selborne, Nov. 30, 1780. 

EVERY incident that occasions a renewal of our corre- 
spondence will ever be pleasing and agreeable to me. 

As to the wild wood-pigeon, the oenas , or vinago, of Ray, 
I am much of your mind ; and see no reason for making it 
the origin of the common house-dove : but suppose those 
that have advanced that opinion may have been misled by 
another appellation, often given to the oenas ', which is that 
of stock-dove. 

Unless the stock-dove in the winter varies greatly in 
manners from itself in summer, no species seems more 
unlikely to be domesticated, and to make an house-dove. 
We very rarely see the latter settle on trees at all, nor does 
it ever haunt the woods ; but the former, as long as it 
stays with us, from November perhaps to February, lives 
the same wild life with the ring-dove, palumbus torquatus ; 
frequents coppices and groves, supports itself chiefly by 
mast, and delights to roost in the tallest beeches. Could it 
be known in what manner stock-doves build, the doubt 
would be settled with me at once, provided they construct 
their nests on trees, like the ring-dove, as I much suspect 
they do. 

You received, you say, last spring a stock-dove from 
Sussex ; and are informed that they sometimes breed in 
that county. But why did not your correspondent de- 
termine the place of its nidification, whether on rocks, 
cliffs, or trees ? If he was not an adroit ornithologist I 
should doubt the fact, because people with us perpetually 
confound the stock-dove with the ring-dove. 

For my own part, I readily concur with you in supposing 
that house-doves are derived from the small blue rock- 


pigeon, for many reasons. In the first place the wild 
stock-dove is manifestly larger than the common house- 
dove, against the usual rule of domestication, which 
generally enlarges the breed. Again, those two remarkable 
black spots on the remiges of each wing of the stock-dove, 
which are so characteristic of the species, would not, one 
should think, be totally lost by its being reclaimed ; but 
would often break out among its descendants. But what is 
worth an hundred arguments is, the instance you give in 
Sir Roger Mostyn's house-doves, in Caernarvonshire; which, 
though tempted by plenty of food and gentle treatment, 
can never be prevailed on to inhabit their cote for any time; 
but, as soon as they begin to breed, betake themselves to 
the fastnesses of Ormshead, and deposit their young in 
safety amidst the inaccessible caverns, and precipices of 
that stupendous promontory. 

"Naturam expellas furca . . . tamen usque recurret." 

I have consulted a sportsman, now in his seventy-eighth 
year, who tells me that fifty or sixty years back, when the 
beechen woods were much more extensive than at present, 
the number of wood-pigeons was astonishing ; that he has 
often killed near twenty in a day ; and that with a long 
wild-fowl piece he has shot seven or eight at a time on the 
wing as they came wheeling over his head : he moreover 
adds, which I was not aware of, that often there were 
among them little parties of small blue doves, which he 
calls rockier s. The food of these numberless emigrants 
was beech-mast and some acorns ; and particularly barley, 
which they collected in the stubbles. But of late years, 
since the vast increase of turnips, that vegetable has 
furnished a great part of their support in hard weather ; 
and the holes they pick in these roots greatly damage the 
crop. From this food their flesh has contracted a rancid- 
ness which occasions them to be rejected by nicer judges of 
eating, who thought them before a delicate dish. They 
were shot not only as they were feeding in the fields, and 
especially in snowy weather, but also at the close of the 
evening, by men who lay in ambush among the woods and 


groves to kill them as they came in to roost. 1 These are 
the principal circumstances relating to this wonderful 
internal migration, which with us takes place towards the 
end of November, and ceases early in the spring. Last 
winter we had in Selborne high wood about an hundred of 
these doves ; but in former times the flocks were so vast 
not only with us but all the district round, that on morn- 
ings and evenings they traversed the air, like rooks, in 
strings, reaching for a mile together. When they thus 
rendezvous here by thousands, if they happened to be 
suddenly roused from their roost-trees on an evening, 

" Their rising all at once was like the sound 
Of thunder heard remote." 

It will by no means be foreign to the present purpose to 
add, that I had a relation in this neighbourhood who made 
it a practice for a time, whenever he could procure the eggs 
of a ring-dove, to place them under a pair of doves that 
were sitting in his own pigeon-house ; hoping thereby, if 
he could bring about a coalition, to enlarge his breed, and 
teach his own doves to beat out into the woods and to 
support themselves by mast : the plan was plausible, but 
something always interrupted the success ; for though the 
birds were usually hatched, and sometimes grew to half 
their size, yet none ever arrived at maturity. I myself 
have seen these foundlings in their nest displaying a strange 
ferocity of nature, so as scarcely to bear to be looked at, 
and snapping with their bills by way of menace. In short, 
they always died, perhaps for want of proper sustenance : 
but the owner thought that by their fierce and wild de- 
meanour they frighted their foster-mothers, and so were 

Virgil, as a familiar occurrence, by way of simile, describes 
a dove haunting the cavern of a rock in such engaging 
numbers, that I cannot refrain from quoting the passage : 
and John Dryden has rendered it so happily in our 

1 Some old sportsmen say that the main part of these flocks used to 
withdraw as soon as the heavy Christmas frosts were over. 


language, that without farther excuse I shall add his 

translation also. 

" Quails spelunca subito commota Columba, 
Cui domus, et dulces latebroso in pumice nidi, 
Fertur in arva volans, plausumque exterrita pennis 
Dat tecto ingentem mox acre lapsa quieto, 
Radit her liquidum, celeres neque commovet alas." 

" As when a dove her rocky hold forsakes, 
Rous'd, in a fright her sounding wings she shakes ; 
The cavern rings with clattering : out she flies, 
And leaves her callow care, and cleaves the skies : 
At first she flutters : but at length she springs 
To smoother flight, and shoots upon her wings." 

I am, etc. 



Selborne, June 30, 1769. 


WHEN I was in town last month I partly engaged that I 
would sometime do myself the honour to write to you on 
the subject of natural history : and I am the more ready 
to fulfil my promise, because I see you are a gentleman of 
great candour, and one that will make allowances ; especially 
where the writer professes to be an out-door naturalist, one 
that takes his observations from the subject itself, and not 
from the writings of others. 

'The following is a List of the Summer Birds of Passage which 
I have discovered in this neighbourhood^ ranged somewhat 
in the order which they appear: 





Jynx, she torquilla. 

The middle of March : harsh 



Smallest willow- 

Regulus non cristatus. 

March 23 : chirps till Sep- 





Hirundo domestica. 

April 13. 



Hirundo rustlca. 




Hirundo riparla. 





Ditto : a sweet wild note. 




Beginning of April. 




Middle of April. 


Middle willow- 

Regulus non cristatus. 

Ditto: a sweet plaintive note. 




Ficedulae affinis. 

Ditto : mean note ; sings on 

till September. 




11. Red-start, Ruticllla. Middle of April: more 

agreeable song. 

12. Stone-curlew, Oedlcnemus. End of March : loud noc- 

turnal whistle. 

13. Turtle-dove, Turtur. 

14. Grasshopper-lark, Alauda minima locustae Middle of April: a small 

voce. sibilous note, till the end 

of July. 

15. Swift, Hirundo apus. About April 27. 

1 6. Less reed-sparrow, Passer arundinaceus A sweet polyglot, but hurry- 

minor. ing : it has the notes of 

many birds. 

17. Land-rail, Ortygometra. A loud harsh note, crex,crex. 

1 8. Largest willow- Regulus non cristatus. Cantat voce itrlduld locustae ; 

wren, end of April, on the tops 

of high beeches. 

1 9. Goat-sucker, or Caprimulgui. Beginning of May ; chatters 

fern-owl, by night with a singular 


20. Fly-catcher, Stoparola. May 12. A very mute bird : 

this is the latest summer 
bird of passage. 

This assemblage of curious and amusing birds belongs 
to ten several genera of the Linnaean system ; and are all 
of the or do of passeres, save the jynx and cuculus, which are 
picae, and the charadrius (oedicnemus} and rallus (ortygometra), 
which are grallae. 

These birds, as they stand numerically, belong to the 
following Linnaean genera : 

1. Jy nx - 1 3- Columba. 

2, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 1 6, 1 8. Motacilla. 17. Rallus. 
3,4, 5, 15. Hirundo. 19. Caprimulgus. 
8. Cuculus. 14. Alauda. 

12. Charadrius. 20. Muscle apa. 

Most soft-billed birds live on insects, and not on grain 
and seeds ; and therefore at the end of summer they 
retire : but the following soft-billed birds, though insect- 
eaters, stay with us the year round : 


Redbreast, Rubecula. J Th , ese fr^nt houses ; and 

Wren, Passer troglodytes. \ haunt outbuildin g s in the 

[ winter ; eat spiders. 




Hedge-sparrow, Curruca. 

White-wagtail, Motacilla alba. 

Yellow-wagtail, Motacilla flava. 

Grey-wagtail, Motacilla cinerea. 

Wheat-ear, Oenanthe. 

Whin-chat, Oenantke secunda. 

Stone-chatter, Oenanthe tertia. 
Golden-crowned wren, Regulus Cristatus. 

Haunt sinks for crumbs and 
other sweepings. 

These frequent shallow rivu- 
lets near the spring heads, 
where they never freeze : 
eat the aureliae of Phry- 
ganea. The smallest birds 
that walk. 

Some of these are to be seen 
with us the winter through. 

This is the smallest British 
bird : haunts the tops of 
tall trees ; stays the winter 

A List of the Winter Birds of Passage round this neighbour- 
hood, ranged somewhat in the order in which they appear : 

I. Ring-ousel, 

2. Redwing, 

3. Fieldfare, 

Merula torquata. 

Turdus iliacus. 
Turdus pilaris. 

4. Royston-crow, Comix cinerea. 

5. Woodcock, Scolopax. 

6. Snipe, 

Gattinago minor. 

7. Jack-snipe, Gallinago minima. 

8. Wood-pigeon, Oenas. 

9. Wild-swan, 

10. Wild-goose, 

11. Wild-duck, 

1 2. Pochard, 

13. Wigeon, 

Cygnus ferus. 
Aser ferus. 
Anas torquata minoi 
Anas fera fusca. 

14. Teal, breeds with Querquedula. 
us in Wolmer-forest, 

15. Gross-beak, Coccothraustes. 

1 6. Cross-bill, Loxia. 

1 7. Silk-tail, Garrulus bohcmiciu. 

This is a new migration 
which I have lately dis- 
covered about Michaelmas 
week, and again about the 
fourteenth of March. 

About old Michaelmas. 

Though a percher by day, 
roosts on the ground. 

Most frequent on downs. 

Appears about old Michael- 

Some snipes constantly breed 
with us. 

Seldom appears till late : not 
in such plenty as formerly. 
On some large waters. 

On our lakes and streams. 

These are only wanderers 
that appear occasionally, 
and are not observant of 
any regular migration. 


These birds, as they stand numerically, belong to the 
following Linnaean genera : 

i, 2, 3, Turdus, 9, 10, II, 12, 13, 14, Anas. 

4, Corvus. 15, 1 6, Loxia. 

5, 6, 7, Scolopax. 17. Ampel'u. 
8, Columba. 

Birds that sing in the night are but few. 

Nightingale, Lusclnla. " In shadiest covert hid." 


Woodlark, Alauda arborea. Suspended in mid air. 

Less reed-sparrow, Passer arundinaceus minor. Among reeds and willows. 

I should now proceed to such birds as continue to sing 
after Midsummer, but, as they are rather numerous, they 
would exceed the bounds of this paper : besides, as this 
is now the season for remarking on that subject, I am 
willing to repeat my observations on some birds concerning 
the continuation of whose song I seem at present to have 
some doubt. 

I am, etc. 



Selborne, Nov. 2, 1769. 


WHEN I did myself the honour to write to you about 
the end of last June on the subject of natural history, I 
sent you a list of the summer-birds of passage which I 
have observed in this neighbourhood ; and also a list of 
the winter-birds of passage : I mentioned besides those 
soft-billed birds that stay with us the winter through in 
the south of England, and those that are remarkable for 
singing in the night. 

According to my proposal, I shall now proceed to such 



birds (singing birds strictly so called) as continue in full 
song till after Midsummer ; and shall range them some- 
what in the order in which they first begin to open as the 
spring advances. 

I. Wood-lark, 

2. Song-thrush, 

3- Wren, 


Alauda arborea. 

Turdus simpliciter 

Passer troglodytes. 

In January, and continues to 
sing through all the sum- 
mer and autumn. 

In February and on to 
August, reassume their 
song in autumn. 

All the year, hard frost ex- 


Early in February to July 
the loth. 

Early in February, and on 
through July to August 
the 2 1st. 

In February, and on to 

From April to September. 

Beginning of April to July 
1 3th. 

From middle of April to 
July the 1 6th. 

Sometimes in February and 
March, and so on to July 
the twenty-third ; reas- 
sumes in autumn. 

In April and on to July 23. 

April and through to Sep- 
tember 1 6. 

On to July and August 2. 

May, on to beginning of 

Breeds and whistles on till 
August ; reassumes its note 
when they begin to con- 
gregate in October, and 
again early before the flock 

Birds that cease to be in full song, and are usually silent 
at or before Midsummer : 

4- Redbreast, 
5. Hedge-sparrow, 

6. Yellowhammer, 

7. Skylark, 

8. Swallow, 
9. Black-cap, 

10. Titlark, 
ii. Blackbird, 


Emberiza flava. 

Alauda vulgaris. 

Hirundo domestica. 

Alauda pratorum. 
Merula vulgaris. 

12. White-throat, 

1 3. Goldfinch, 

Ficedulae ajfinis. 

14. Greenfinch, Chloris. 

15. Less reed-sparrow, Passer arundlnaceus 


1 6. Common linnet, Linaria vulgaris. 

17. Middle willow- Regulus non cristatus. 

Middle of June ; begins in 




: 8. Redstart, Ruticilla. Middle of June : begins in 


19. Chaffinch, Fringilla. Beginning of June : sings first 

in February. 

20. Nightingale, Luscinia. Middle of June : sings first 

in April. 

Birds that sing for a short time, and very early in the 
spring : 

21. Missel-bird, Turdus viscivorus. January the 2nd, 1770, in 

February. Is called in 
Hampshire and Sussex the 
storm-cock, because its 
song is supposed to fore- 
bode windy wet weather : 
is the largest singing bird 
we have. 

22. Great titmouse, Fringillagp. In February, March, April : 

or ox-eye, reassumes for a short time 

in September. 

Birds that have somewhat of a note or song, and yet are 
hardly to be called singing birds : 

23. Golden-crowned Regulus cristatus. Its note as minute as its per- 

wren. son ; frequents the tops of 

high oaks and firs : the 
smallest British bird. 

24. Marsh titmouse, Parus palustris. Haunts great woods : two 

harsh sharp notes. 

25. Small willow- Regulus non cristatus. Sings in March and on to 

wren, September. 

26. Largest ditto, Ditto. Cantat voce stridula kcustae ; 

from end of April to 

27. Grasshopper- Alauda minima voce Chirps all night, from the 

lark, locustae. middle of April to the 

end of July. 

28. Martin, Hirundo agrestis. All the breeding time ; from 

May to September. 

29. Bullfinch, Pyrrhula. 

30. Bunting, Emberiza alba. From the end of January to 


All singing birds, and those that have any pretensions to 
song, not only in Britain, but perhaps the world through, 
come under the Linnaean or do of passer es. 



i, 7, 10, 27. 
2 y II, 21. 

T urdus. 

The above-mentioned birds, as they stand numerically, 
belong to the following Linnaean genera. 

8, 28. Hirundo. 

13, 1 6, 19. Fringilla. 

22, 24. Parus. 

6, 30. Emberiza. 14, 29. Loxia. 

Birds that sing as they fly are but few : 





Alauda vulgaris. 

Alauda arborea. 
Ficidulae affinis. 

Hirundo domestica. 
Passer troglodytes. 

Rising, suspended, and fall- 

In its descent ; also sitting 
on trees, and walking on 
the ground. 

Suspended ; in hot summer 
nights all night long. 

Sometimes from bush to 

Uses when singing on the 
wing odd jerks and ges- 

In soft sunny weather. 

Sometimes from bush to 

Birds that breed most early in these parts : 







Comix frugilega. 

Alauda arborea. 
Palumbus torquatus 

Hatches in February and 

In March. 
In March. 
Builds the beginning of 


Hatches in April. 
Lays the beginning of April. 

All birds that continue in full song till after Midsummer 
appear to me to breed more than once. 

Most kinds of birds seem to me to be wild and shy 
somewhat in proportion to their bulk ; I mean in this 
island, where they are much pursued and annoyed : but in 
Ascension Island, and many other desolate places, mariners 
have found fowls so unacquainted with an human figure, 


that they would stand still to be taken ; as is the case with 
boobies, etc. As an example of what is advanced, I remark 
that the golden-crested wren (the smallest British bird) 
will stand unconcerned till you come within three or four 
yards of it, while the bustard (0/w), the largest British land 
fowl, does not care to admit a person within so many 

I am, etc. 



Selborne, Jan. 15, 1770. 


IT was no small matter of satisfaction to me to find that 
you were not displeased with my little methodus of birds. 
If there was any merit in the sketch, it must be owing to 
its punctuality. For many months I carried a list in my 
pocket of the birds that were to be remarked, and, as I 
rode or walked about my business, I noted each day the 
continuance or omission of each bird's song ; so that I am 
as sure of the certainty of my facts as a man can be of any 
transaction whatsoever. 

I shall now proceed to answer the several queries which 
you put in your two obliging letters, in the best manner 
that I am able. Perhaps Eastwick, and its environs, where 
you heard so very few birds, is not a woodland country, 
and therefore not stocked with such songsters. If you 
will cast your eye on my last letter, you will find that many 
species continued to warble after the beginning of July. 

The titlark and yellowhammer breed late, the latter 
very late ; and therefore it is no wonder that they protract 
their song : for I lay it down as a maxim in ornithology, 
that as long as there is any incubation going on there is 
music. As to the redbreast and wren, it is well known to 


the most incurious observer that they whistle the year 
round, hard frost excepted ; especially the latter. 

It was not in my power to procure you a black-cap, or 
a less reed-sparrow, or sedge-bird, alive. As the first is 
undoubtedly, and the last, as far as I can yet see, a 
summer bird of passage, they would require more nice 
and curious management in a cage than I should be able to 
give them : they are both distinguished songsters. The note 
of the former has such a wild sweetness that it always brings 
to my mind those lines in a song in " As You Like It," 

" And tune his merry note 
Unto the wild bird's throat." SHAKESPEARE. 

The latter has a surprising variety of notes resembling 
the song of several other birds ; but then it also has an 
hurrying manner, not at all to its advantage : it is not- 
withstanding a delicate polyglot. 

It is new to me that titlarks in cages sing in the night ; 
perhaps only caged birds do so. I once knew a tame 
red-breast in a cage that always sang as long as candles 
were in the room ; but in their wild state no one supposes 
they sing in the night. 

I should be almost ready to doubt the fact, that there 
are to be seen much fewer birds in July than in any former 
month, notwithstanding so many young are hatched daily. 
Sure I am that it is far otherwise with respect to the 
swallow tribe, which increases prodigiously as the summer 
advances : and I saw, at the time mentioned, many hun- 
dreds of young wagtails on the banks of the Cherwell, 
which almost covered the meadows. If the matter appears 
as you say in the other species, may it not be owing to the 
dams being engaged in incubation, while the young are 
concealed by the leaves ? 

Many times have I had the curiosity to open the 
stomachs of woodcocks and snipes ; but nothing ever 
occurred that helped to explain to me what their sub- 
sistence might be : all that I could ever find was a soft 
mucus, among which lay many pellucid small gravels. 

I am, etc. 




Selborne, Feb. 19, 1770. 


YOUR observation that " the cuckoo does not deposit its 
egg indiscriminately in the nest of the first bird that comes 
in its way, but probably looks out a nurse in some degree 
congenerous, with whom to intrust its young," is per- 
fectly new to me; and struck me so forcibly, that I 
naturally fell into a train of thought that led me to con- 
sider whether the fact was so, and what reason there was 
for it. When I came to recollect and inquire, I could not 
find that any cuckoo had ever been seen in these parts, 
except in the nest of the wagtail, the hedge-sparrow, the 
titlark, the white-throat, and the redbreast, all soft-billed 
insectivorous birds. The excellent Mr. Willughby men- 
tions the nests of the palumbus (ring-dove), and of the 
fringilla (chaffinch), birds that subsist on acorns and grains, 
and such hard food : but then he does not mention them 
as of his own knowledge ; but says afterwards that he saw 
himself a wagtail feeding a cuckoo. It appears hardly 
possible that a soft-billed bird should subsist on the same 
food with the hard-billed : for the former have thin 
membranaceous stomachs suited to their soft food ; while 
the latter, the granivorous tribe, have strong muscular 
gizzards, which, like mills, grind, by the help of small 
gravels and pebbles, what is swallowed. This proceeding 
of the cuckoo, of dropping its eggs as it were by chance, 
is such a monstrous outrage on maternal affection, one of 
the first great dictates of nature ; and such a violence on 
instinct ; that, had it only been related of a bird in the 
Brazils, or Peru, it would never have merited our belief. 
But yet, should it farther appear that this simple bird, 
when divested of that natural a-rop^ that seems to raise 
the kind in general above themselves, and inspire them 


with extraordinary degrees of cunning and address, may 
be still endued with a more enlarged faculty of discerning 
what species are suitable and congenerous nursing-mothers 
for its disregarded eggs and young, and may deposit them 
only under their care, this would be adding wonder to 
wonder, and instancing in a fresh manner, that the methods 
of Providence are not subjected to any mode or rule, but 
astonish us in new lights, and in various and changeable 

What was said by a very ancient and sublime writer 
concerning the defect of natural affection in the ostrich, 
may be well applied to the bird we are talking of : 

"She is hardened against her young ones, as though 
they were not hers : 

" Because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither 
hath he imparted to her understanding." } 

Query. Does each female cuckoo lay but one egg in a 
season, or does she drop several in different nests accord- 
ing as opportunity offers ? 

I am, etc. 



Selborne, April 12, 1770. 


I HEARD many birds of several species sing last year after 
Midsummer ; enough to prove that the summer solstice is 
not the period that puts a stop to the music of the woods. 
The yellowhammer no doubt persists with more steadiness 
than any other ; but the woodlark, the wren, the red- 
breast, the swallow, the white-throat, the goldfinch, the 
common linnet, are all undoubted instances of the truth of 
what I advanced. 

1 Job xxxix. 1 6, 17. 


If this severe season does not interrupt the regularity of 
the summer migrations, the blackcap will be here in two or 
three days. I wish it was in my power to procure you one 
of those songsters ; but I am no birdcatcher ; and so little 
used to birds in a cage, that I fear if I had one it would 
soon die for want of skill in feeding. 

Was your reed-sparrow, which you kept in a cage, the 
thick-billed reed-sparrow of the Zoology, p. 320 ; or was 
it the less reed-sparrow of Ray, the sedge-bird of Mr. 
Pennant's last publication, p. 16 ? 

As to the matter of long-billed birds growing fatter 
in moderate frosts, I have no doubt within myself what 
should be the reason. The thriving at those times 
appears to me to arise altogether from the gentle check 
which the cold throws upon insensible perspiration. The 
case is just the same with blackbirds, etc.; and farmers and 
warreners observe, the first, that their hogs fat more kindly 
at such times, and the latter that their rabbits are never in 
such good case as in a gentle frost. But when frosts are 
severe, and of long continuance, the case is soon altered ; 
for then a want of food soon overbalances the repletion 
occasioned by a checked perspiration. I have observed, 
moreover, that some human constitutions are more inclined 
to plumpness in winter than in summer. 

When birds come to suffer by severe frost, I find that 
the first that fail and die are the redwing-fieldfares, and 
then the song-thrushes. 

You wonder, with good reason, that the hedge-sparrows, 
etc. can be induced to sit at all on the egg of the cuckoo 
without being scandalized at the vast disproportioned size 
of the suppositious egg ; but the brute creation, I suppose, 
have very little idea of size, colour, or number. For the 
common hen, I know, when the fury of incubation is on 
her, will sit on a single shapeless stone instead of a nest full 
of eggs that have been withdrawn : and, moreover, a hen- 
turkey, in the same circumstances, would sit on in the 
empty nest till she perished with hunger. 

I think the matter might easily be determined whether 
a cuckoo lays one or two eggs, or more, in a season, 


by opening a female during the laying-time. If more than 
one was come down out of the ovary, and advanced to 
a good size, doubtless then she would that spring lay more 
than one. 

I will endeavour to get a hen, and to examine. 

Your supposition that there may be some natural 
obstruction in singing birds while they are mute, and that 
when this is removed the song recommences is new and 
bold ; I wish you could discover some good grounds for 
this suspicion. 

I was glad you were pleased with my specimen of the 
caprimulgus, or fern -fowl ; you were, I find, acquainted with 
the bird before. 

When we meet, I shall be glad to have some conversa- 
tion with you concerning the proposal you make of my 
drawing up an account of the animals in this neighbour- 
hood. Your partiality towards my small abilities persuades 
you, I fear, that I am able to do more than is in my 
power: for it is no small undertaking for a man unsup- 
ported and alone to begin a natural history from his own 
autopsia ! Though there is endless room for observation 
in the field of nature, which is boundless, yet investigation 
(where a man endeavours to be sure of his facts) can make 
but slow progress ; and all that one could collect in many 
years would go into a very narrow compass. 

Some extracts from your ingenious " Investigations of 
the difference between the present temperature of the 
air in Italy," etc. have fallen in my way ; and gave me 
great satisfaction : they have removed the objections that 
always rose in my mind whenever I came to the passages 
which you quote. Surely the judicious Virgil, when 
writing a didactic poem for the region of Italy, could 
never think of describing freezing rivers, unless such 
severity of weather pretty frequently occurred ! 

P.S. Swallows appear amidst snows and frost. 




Selborne, May 21, 1770. 

THE severity and turbulence of last month so inter- 
rupted the regular progress of summer migration, that 
some of the birds do but just begin to show themselves, 
and others are apparently thinner than usual ; as the white- 
throat, the black-cap, the red-start, the fly-catcher. I 
well remember that after the very severe spring in the 
year 1739-40 summer birds of passage were very scarce. 
They come probably hither with a south-east wind, or 
when it blows between those points ; but in that unfavour- 
able year the winds blowed the whole spring and summer 
through from the opposite quarters. And yet amidst all 
these disadvantages two swallows, as I mentioned in my 
last, appeared this year as early as the eleventh of April 
amidst frost and snow; but they withdrew again for a 

I am not pleased to find that some people seem so little 
satisfied with Scopoli's new publication ; x there is room to 
expect great things from the hands of that man, who is 
a good naturalist : and one would think that an history 
of the birds of so distant and southern a region as Carniola 
would be new and interesting. I could wish to see that 
work, and hope to get it sent down. Dr. Scopoli is 
physician to the wretches that work in the quicksilver 
mines of that district. 

When you talked of keeping a reed-sparrow, and giving 
it seeds, I could not help wondering ; because the reed- 
sparrow which I mentioned to you (passer arundinaceus 
minor Kail] is a soft-billed bird ; and most probably 
migrates hence before winter ; whereas the bird you kept 
(passer torquatus Raii) abides all the year, and is a thick- 

1 This work he calls his Annus Primus Historico Naturalis. 


billed bird. I question whether the latter be much of a 
songster ; but in this matter I want to be better informed. 
The former has a variety of hurrying notes, and sings 
all night. Some part of the song of the former, I suspect, 
is attributed to the latter. We have plenty of the soft- 
billed sort ; which Mr. Pennant had entirely left out of 
his British Zoology, till I reminded him of his omission. 
See British Zoology last published, p. I6. 1 

I have somewhat to advance on the different manners 
in which different birds fly and walk; but as this is a 
subject that I have not enough considered, and is of such 
a nature as not to be contained in a small space, I 
shall say nothing farther about it at present. 2 

No doubt the reason why the sex of birds in their 
first plumage is so difficult to be distinguished is, as you say, 
" because they are not to pair and discharge their parental 
functions till the ensuing spring." As colours seem to 
be the chief external sexual distinction in many birds, these 
colours do not take place till sexual attachments begin 
to obtain. And the case is the same in quadrupeds ; 
among whom, in their younger days, the sexes differ but 
little : but, as they advance to maturity, horns and shaggy 
manes, beards and brawny necks, etc. etc. strongly dis- 
criminate the male from the female. We may instance 
still farther in our own species, where a beard and stronger 
features are usually characteristic of the male sex : but this 
sexual diversity does not take place in earlier life; for 
a beautiful youth shall be so like a beautiful girl that the 
difference shall not be discernible ; 

" Quern si puellarum insereres chore, 
Mire sagaces falleret hospites 
Discrimen obscurum, solutis 
Crinibus, ambiguoque vultu." HOR. 

1 See letter xxv. to Mr. Pennant. 2 See letter xlii. to Mr. Harrington. 




Ringmer, near Lewes, Oct. 8, 1770. 


I AM glad to hear that Kuckalm is to furnish you with the 
birds of Jamaica ; a sight of the hirundines of that hot and 
distant island would be great entertainment to me. 

The Anni of Scopoli are now in my possession ; and I 
have read the Annus Primus with satisfaction : for though 
some parts of this work are exceptionable, and he may 
advance some mistaken observations ; yet the ornithology 
of so distant a country as Carniola is very curious. Men 
that undertake only one district are much more likely to 
advance natural knowledge than those that grasp at more 
than they can possibly be acquainted with : every kingdom, 
every province, should have its own monographer. 

The reason perhaps why he mentions nothing of Ray's 
Ornithology may be the extreme poverty and distance of 
his country, into which the works of our great naturalist 
may have never yet found their way. You have doubts, I 
know, whether this Ornithology is genuine, and really the 
work of Scopoli : as to myself, I think I discover strong 
tokens of authenticity; the style corresponds with that 
of his Entomology ; and his characters of his Ordines and 
Genera are many of them new, expressive, and masterly. 
He has ventured to alter some of the Linnaean genera 
with sufficient show of reason. 

It might perhaps be mere accident that you saw so 
many swifts and no swallows at Staines ; because, in my 
long observation of those birds, I never could discover the 
least degree of rivalry or hostility between the species. 

Ray remarks that birds of the gallinae order, as cocks 
and hens, partridges, and pheasants, etc. are pulveratrices 
such as dust themselves, using that method of cleansing 
their feathers, and ridding themselves of their vermin. 


As far as I can observe, many birds that dust themselves 
never wash : and I once thought that those birds that wash 
themselves would never dust ; but here I find myself 
mistaken ; for common house-sparrows are great pulvera- 
trices, being frequently seen grovelling and wallowing in 
dusty roads; and yet they are great washers. Does not 
the skylark dust ? 

Query. Might not Mahomet and his followers take 
one method of purification from these pulveratrices ? 
because I find from travellers of credit, that if a strict 
mussulman is journeying in a sandy desert where no water 
is to be found, at stated hours he strips off his clothes, and 
most scrupulously rubs his body over with sand or dust. 

A countryman told me he had found a young fern-owl 
in the nest of a small bird on the ground ; and that it 
was fed by the little bird. I went to see this extraordi- 
nary phenomenon, and found that it was a young cuckoo 
hatched in the nest of a titlark : it was become vastly 
too big for its nest, appearing 

-in tenui re 

Majores pennas nido extendisse 

and was very fierce and pugnacious, pursuing my finger, 
as I teazed it, for many feet from the nest, and sparring 
and buffeting with its wings like a game-cock. The dupe 
of a dam appeared at a distance, hovering about with 
meat in its mouth, and expressing the greatest solicitude. 

In July I saw several cuckoos skimming over a large 
pond; and found, after some observation, that they were 
feeding on the libellulae, or dragon-flies ; some of which 
they caught as they settled on the weeds, and some as 
they were on the wing. Notwithstanding what Linnaeus 
says, I cannot be induced to believe that they are birds of 

This district affords some birds that are hardly ever 
heard of at Selborne. In the first place considerable flocks of 
cross-beaks (loxiae curvirostrae) have appeared this summer 
in the pine-groves belonging to this house ; the water-ousel 
is said to haunt the mouth of the Lewes river, near 


Newhaven ; and the Cornish chough builds, I know, all 
along the chalky cliffs of the Sussex shore. 

I was greatly pleased to see little parties of ring-ousels 
(my newly discovered migraters) scattered, at intervals, all 
along the Sussex downs from Chichester to Lewes. Let 
them come from whence they will, it looks very suspicious 
that they are cantoned along the coast in order to pass the 
channel when severe weather advances. They visit us 
again in April, as it should seem, in their return ; and are 
not to be found in the dead of winter. It is remarkable 
that they are very tame, and seem to have no manner of 
apprehensions of danger from a person with a gun. There 
are bustards on the wide downs near Brighthelmstone. 
No doubt you are acquainted with the Sussex downs : the 
prospects and rides round Lewes are most lovely ! 

As I rode along near the coast I kept a very sharp look 
out in the lanes and woods, hoping I might, at this time 
of the year, have discovered some of the summer short- 
winged birds of passage crowding towards the coast in 
order for their departure : but it was very extraordinary 
that I never saw a redstart, white-throat, black-cap, un- 
crested wren, fly-catcher, etc. And I remember to have 
made the same remark in former years, as I usually come 
to this place annually about this time. The birds most 
common along the coast at present are the stone-chatters, 
whinchats, buntings, linnets, some few wheat-ears, titlarks, 
etc. Swallows and house-martins abound yet, induced to 
prolong their stay by this soft, still, dry season. 

A land tortoise, which has been kept for thirty years in 
a little walled court belonging to the house where I now 
am visiting, retires under ground about the middle of 
November, and comes forth again about the middle of 
April. When it first appears in the spring it discovers 
very little inclination towards food; but in the height of 
summer grows voracious : and then as the summer declines 
its appetite declines ; so that for the last six weeks in 
autumn it hardly eats at all. Milky plants, such as lettuces, 
dandelions, sowthistles, are its favourite dish. In a neigh- 
bouring village one was kept till by tradition it was 


supposed to be an hundred years old. An instance of 
vast longevity in such a poor reptile ! 



Selborne, Dec. 20, 1770. 


THE birds that I took for aberdavines were reed-sparrows 
(pas seres torquati.) 

There are doubtless many home internal migrations 
within this kingdom that want to be better understood : 
witness those vast flocks of hen chaffinches that appear 
with us in the winter without hardly any cocks among 
them. Now was there a due proportion of each sex, it 
should seem very improbable that any one district should 
produce such numbers of these little birds; and much 
more when only one half of the species appears : therefore 
we may conclude that \hz fringillae caelebes, for some good 
purposes, have a peculiar migration of their own in which 
the sexes part. Nor should it seem so wonderful that the 
intercourse of sexes in this species of birds should be 
interrupted in winter; since in many animals, and par- 
ticularly in bucks and does, the sexes herd separately, 
except at the season when commerce is necessary for the 
continuance of the breed. For this matter of the chaf- 
finches see Fauna Suecica, p. 5, and Systema Naturae, 
p. 318. I see every winter vast flights of hen chaffinches, 
but none of cocks. 

Your method of accounting for the periodical motions of 
the British singing birds, or birds of flight, is a very prob- 
able one ; since the matter of food is a great regulator of 
the actions and proceedings of the brute creation : there is 
but one that can be set in competition with it, and that 
is love. But I cannot quite acquiesce with you in one 


circumstance when you advance that, "when they have thus 
feasted, they again separate into small parties of five or six, 
and get the best fare they can within a certain district, 
having no inducement to go in quest of fresh-turned earth." 
Now if you mean that the business of congregating is quite 
at an end from the conclusion of wheat-sowing to the 
season of barley and oats, it is not the case with us ; for 
larks and chaffinches, and particularly linnets, flock and 
congregate as much in the very dead of winter as when 
the husbandman is busy with his ploughs and harrows. 

Sure there can be no doubt but that woodcocks and 
fieldfares leave us in the spring, in order to cross the seas, 
and to retire to some districts more suitable to the purpose 
of breeding. That the former pair before they retire, and 
that the hens are forward with egg, I myself, when I was a 
sportsman, have often experienced. It cannot indeed be 
denied but that now and then we hear of a woodcock's 
nest, or young birds, discovered in some part or other of 
this island : but then they are always mentioned as rarities, 
and somewhat out of the common course of things : but 
as to redwings and fieldfares, no sportsman or naturalist 
has ever yet, that I could hear, pretended to have found 
the nest or young of those species in any part of these 
kingdoms. And I the more admire at this instance as 
extraordinary, since, to all appearance, the same food in 
summer as well as in winter might support them here 
which maintains their congeners, the blackbirds and 
thrushes, did they choose to stay the summer through. 
From hence it appears that it is not food alone which 
determines some species of birds with regard to their stay 
or departure. Fieldfares and redwings disappear sooner or 
later according as the warm weather comes on earlier or 
later. For I well remember, after that dreadful winter of 
1739-40, that cold north-east winds continued to blow on 
through April and May, and that these kinds of birds 
(what few remained of them) did not depart as usual, but 
were seen lingering about till the beginning of June. 

The best authority that we can have for the nidification 
of the birds above-mentioned in any district, is the testi- 


mony of faunists that have written professedly the natural 
history of particular countries. Now, as to the fieldfare, 
Linnaeus, in his Fauna Suecica, says of it that "maximis in 
arboribus nidificat" : and of the redwing he says, in the 
same place, that " nidificat in mediis arbusculis, sive sepibus : 
ova sex caeruleo-viridia maculis nigris variis" Hence we 
may be assured that fieldfares and redwings breed in 
Sweden. Scopoli says, in his Annus Primus, of the wood- 
cock, that " nupta ad nos venit circa aequinoctium vernale " : 
meaning in Tirol, of which he is a native. And afterwards 

he adds "nidificat in paludibus alpinis: ova ponit 3 5." 

It does not appear from Kramer that woodcocks breed at 
all in Austria: but he says "Avis haec septentrionalium 
provinciarum aestivo tempore incola est; ubi pier unique nidificat. 
Appropinquante hyeme australiores provincias petit : hinc circa 
plenilunium mensis Octobris plerumque Austriam transmigrat. 
'Tune rursus circa plenilunium potissimum mensis Martii per 
Austriam matrimonio juncta ad septentrionales provincias 
redit" For the whole passage (which I have abridged) 
see Elenchus, etc. p. 351. This seems to be a full proof 
of the migration of woodcocks ; though little is proved 
concerning the place of breeding. 

P. S. There fell in the county of Rutland, in three 
weeks of this present very wet weather, seven inches and 
an half of rain, which is more than has fallen in any three 
weeks for these thirty years past in that part of the world. 
A mean quantity in that county for one year is twenty 
inches and an half. 


Fyfield, near Andover, Feb. 12, 1771. 


You are, I know, no great friend to migration ; and the 
well attested accounts from various parts of the kingdom 


seem to justify you in your suspicions, that at least many 
of the swallow kind do not leave us in the winter, but lay 
themselves up like insects and bats, in a torpid state, to 
slumber away the more uncomfortable months till the 
return of the sun and fine weather awakens them. 

But then we must not, I think, deny migration in 
general ; because migration certainly does subsist in some 
places, as my brother in Andalusia has fully informed me. 
Of the motions of these birds he has ocular demonstration, 
for many weeks together, both spring and fall : during 
which periods myriads of the swallow kind traverse the 
Straits from north to south, and from south to north, 
according to the season. And these vast migrations consist 
not only of hirundines but of bee-birds, hoopoes, oro 
pcndolos, or golden thrushes, etc. etc. and also many of 
our soft-billed summer-birds of passage ; and moreover 
of birds which never leave us, such as all the various sorts 
of hawks and kites. Old Belon, two hundred years ago, 
gives a curious account of the incredible armies of hawks 
and kites which he saw in the spring-time traversing the 
Thracian Bosphorus from Asia to Europe. Besides the 
above mentioned, he remarks that the procession is swelled 
by whole troops of eagles and vultures. 

Now it is no wonder that birds residing in Africa should 
retreat before the sun as it advances, and retire to milder 
regions, and especially birds of prey, whose blood being 
heated with hot animal food, are more impatient of a sultry 
climate : but then I cannot help wondering why kites and 
hawks, and such hardy birds as are known to defy all the 
severity of England, and even of Sweden and all north 
Europe, should want to migrate from the south of Europe, 
and be dissatisfied with the winters of Andalusia. 

It does not appear to me that much stress may be laid 
on the difficulty and hazard that birds must run in their 
migrations, by reason of vast oceans, cross winds, etc. ; 
because, if we reflect, a bird may travel from England to 
the equator without launching out and exposing itself to 
boundless seas, and that by crossing the water at Dover, 
and again at Gibraltar. And I with the more confidence 


advance this obvious remark, because my brother has 
always found that some of his birds, and particularly the 
swallow kind, are very sparing of their pains in crossing 
the Mediterranean : for when arrived at Gibraltar, they 
do not 

" Rang'd in figure wedge their way, 

And set forth 

Their airy caravan high over seas 

Flying, and over lands with mutual wing 

Easing their flight : " MILTON. 

but scout and hurry along in little detached parties of six 
or seven in a company ; and sweeping low, just over the 
surface of the land and water, direct their course to the 
opposite continent at the narrowest passage they can find. 
They usually slope across the bay to the south-west, and 
so pass over opposite to Tangier, which, it seems, is the 
narrowest space. 

In former letters we have considered whether it was 
probable that woodcocks in moon-shiny nights cross the 
German ocean from Scandinavia. As a proof that birds 
of less speed may pass that sea, considerable as it is, I shall 
relate the following incident, which, though mentioned to 
have happened so many years ago, was strictly matter of 
fact : As some people were shooting in the parish of 
Trotton, in the county of Sussex, they killed a duck in 
that dreadful winter 1708-9, with a silver collar about its 
neck, 1 on which were engraven the arms of the king 
of Denmark. This anecdote the rector of Trotton at that 
time has often told to a near relation of mine ; and, to 
the best of my remembrance, the collar was in the posses- 
sion of the rector. 

At present I do not know any body near the sea-side 
that will take the trouble to remark at what time of the 
moon woodcocks first come : if I lived near the sea myself 
I would soon tell you more of the matter. One thing I 
used to observe when I was a sportsman, that there were 
times in which woodcocks were so sluggish and sleepy 
that they would drop again when flushed just before the 
1 1 have read a like anecdote of a swan. 


spaniels, nay just at the muzzle of a gun that had been 
fired at them : whether this strange laziness was the effect 
of a recent fatiguing journey I shall not presume to say. 

Nightingales not only never reach Northumberland and 
Scotland, but also, as I have been always told, Devonshire 
and Cornwall. In those two last counties we cannot 
attribute the failure of them to the want of warmth : the 
defect in the west is rather a presumptive argument that 
these birds come over to us from the continent at the 
narrowest passage, and do not stroll so far westward. 

Let me hear from your own observation whether sky- 
larks do not dust. I think they do : and if they do, 
whether they wash also. 

The alauda pratensis of Ray was the poor dupe that was 
educating the booby of a cuckoo mentioned in my letter 
of October last. 

Your letter came too late for me to procure a ring-ousel 
for Mr. Tunstal during their autumnal visit ; but I will 
endeavour to get him one when they call on us again in 
April. I am glad that you and that gentleman saw my 
Andalusian birds ; I hope they answered your expectation. 
Royston, or grey crows, are winter birds that come much 
about the same time with the woodcock : they, like the 
fieldfare and redwing, have no apparent reason for migra- 
tion ; for as they fare in the winter like their congeners, 
so might they in all appearance in the summer. Was not 
Tenant, when a boy, mistaken ? did he not find a missel- 
thrush's nest, and take it for the nest of a fieldfare ? 

The stock-dove, or wood-pigeon, aenas Rail, is the last 
winter bird of passage which appears with us ; and is not 
seen till towards the end of November : about twenty 
years ago they abounded in the district of Selborne ; and 
strings of them were seen morning and evening that 
reached a mile or more : but since the beechen woods 
have been greatly thinned they are much decreased in 
number. The ring-dove, palumbus Ran, stays with us the 
whole year, and breeds several times through the summer. 

Before I received your letter of October last I had just 
remarked in my journal that the trees were unusually green, 


This uncommon verdure lasted on late into November ; and 
may be accounted for from a late spring, a cool and moist 
summer ; but more particularly from vast armies of chafers, 
or tree beetles, which, in many places, reduced whole 
woods to a leafless naked state. These trees shot again 
at Midsummer, and then retained their foliage till very 
late in the year. 

My musical friend, at whose house I am now visiting, 
has tried all the owls that are his near neighbours with a 
pitch-pipe set at concert-pitch, and finds they all hoot in 
B flat. He will examine the nightingales next spring. 

I am, etc. etc. 



Selborne, Aug. I, 1771. 


FROM what follows, it will appear that neither owls nor 
cuckoos keep to one note. A friend remarks that many 
(most) of his owls hoot in B flat : but that one went 
almost half a note below A. The pipe he tried their notes 
by was a common half-crown pitch-pipe, such as masters 
use for tuning of harpsichords ; it was the common 
London pitch. 

A neighbour of mine, who is said to have a nice ear, 
remarks that the owls about this village hoot in three 
different keys, in G flat, or F sharp, in B flat and A flat. 
He heard two hooting to each other, the one in A flat, 
and the other in B flat. Query : Do these different notes 
proceed from different species, or only from various indi- 
viduals ? The same person finds upon trial that the note 
of the cuckoo (of which we have but one species) varies in 
different individuals ; for, about Selborne wood, he found 
they were mostly in D : he heard two sing together, the 


one in D, the other in D sharp, who made a disagreeable 
concert : he afterwards heard one in D sharp, and about 
Wolmer-forest some in C. As to nightingales, he says 
that their notes are so short, and their transitions so rapid, 
that he cannot well ascertain their key. Perhaps in a cage, 
and in a room, their notes may be more distinguishable. 
This person has tried to settle the notes of a swift, and of 
several other small birds, but cannot bring them to any 

As I have often remarked that redwings are some of 
the first birds that suffer with us in severe weather, it is 
no wonder at all that they retreat from Scandinavian 
winters : and much more the ordo of grallae, who, all to a 
bird, forsake the northern parts of Europe at the approach 
of winter. " Grallae tanquam conjuratae unanimiter in fugam 
se conjiciunt; ne earum unicam quidem inter nos habitantem 
invenire possimus ; ut enim aestate in australibus degere 
nequeunt ob defectum lumbricorum, terramque siccam ; ita nee in 
frigidis ob eandem causam" says Eckmarck the Swede, in 
his ingenious little treatise called Migrationes Avium, 
which by all means you ought to read while your thoughts 
run on the subject of migration. See Amoeniiates 
Academicae^ vol. 4, p. 565. 

Birds may be so circumstanced as to be obliged to migrate 
in one country and not in another : but the grallae^ (which 
procure their food from marshes and boggy grounds) must 
in winter forsake the more northerly parts of Europe, or 
perish for want of food. 

I am glad you are making inquiries from Linnaeus con- 
cerning the woodcock : it is expected of him that he should 
b&'able to account for the motions and manner of life of 
the animals of his own Fauna. 

Faunists, as you observe, are too apt to acquiesce in 
bare descriptions, and a few synonyms : the reason is 
plain ; because all that may be done at home in a man's 
study, but the investigation of the life and conversation of 
animals, is a concern of much more trouble and difficulty, 
and is not to be attained but by the active and inquisitive, 
and by those that reside much in the country. 


Foreign systematics are, I observe, much too vague in 
their specific differences ; which are almost universally 
constituted by one or two particular marks, the rest of the 
description running in general terms. But our countryman, 
the excellent Mr. Ray, is the only describer that conveys 
some precise idea in every term or word, maintaining his 
superiority over his followers and imitators in spite of the 
advantage of fresh discoveries and modern information. 

At this distance of years it is not in my power to 
recollect at what periods woodcocks used to be sluggish or 
alert when I was a sportsman ; but, upon my mentioning 
this circumstance to a friend, he thinks he has observed 
them to be remarkably listless against snowy foul weather : 
if this should be the case, then the inaptitude for flying 
arises only from an eagerness for food ; as sheep are 
observed to be very intent on grazing against stormy wet 

I am, etc. etc. 



Selborne, Feb. 8, 1772. 


WHEN I ride about in the winter, and see such prodigious 
flocks of various kinds of birds, I cannot help admiring at 
these congregations, and wishing that it was in my power 
to account for those appearances almost peculiar to the 
season. The two great motives which regulate the pro- 
ceedings of the brute creation are love and hunger ; the 
former incites animals to perpetuate their kind, the latter 
induces them to preserve individuals ; whether either of 
these should seem to be the ruling passion in the matter 
of congregating is to be considered. As to love, that is 
out of the question at a time of the year when that soft 


passion is not indulged ; besides, during the amorous 
season, such a jealousy prevails between the male birds 
that they can hardly bear to be together in the same hedge 
or field. Most of the singing and elation of spirits of that 
time seem to me to be the effect of rivalry and emulation : 
and it is to this spirit of jealousy that I chiefly attribute the 
equal dispersion of birds in the spring over the face of the 

Now as to the business of food : as these animals are 
actuated by instinct to hunt for necessary food, they should 
not, one would suppose, crowd together in pursuit of 
sustenance at a time when it is most likely to fail ; yet 
such associations do take place in hard weather chiefly, and 
thicken as the severity increases. As some kind of self- 
interest and self-defence is no doubt the motive for the 
proceeding, may it not arise from the helplessness of their 
state in such rigorous seasons ; as men crowd together, 
when under great calamities, though they know not why ? 
Perhaps approximation may dispel some degree of cold ; 
and a crowd may make each individual appear safer from 
the ravages of birds of prey and other dangers. 

If I admire when I see how much congenerous birds 
love to congregate, I am the more struck when I see 
incongruous ones in such strict amity. If we do not much 
wonder to see a flock of rooks usually attended by a train 
of daws, yet it is strange that the former should so fre- 
quently have a flight of starlings for their satellites. Is it 
because rooks have a more discerning scent than their 
attendants, and can lead them to spots more productive of 
food ? Anatomists say that rooks, by reason of two large 
nerves which run down between the eyes into the upper 
mandible, have a more delicate feeling in their beaks than 
other round-billed birds, and can grope for their meat 
when out of sight. Perhaps then their associates attend 
them on the motive of interest, as greyhounds wait on the 
motions of their finders ; and as lions are said to do on 
the yelpings of jackals. Lapwings and starlings sometimes 




March 9, 1772. 

As a gentleman and myself were walking on the fourth of 
last November round the sea-banks at Newhaven, near 
the mouth of the Lewes river, in pursuit of natural know- 
ledge, we were surprised to see three house-swallows 
gliding very swiftly by us. That morning was rather 
chilly, with the wind at north-west ; but the tenor of the 
weather for some time before had been delicate, and the 
noons remarkably warm. From this incident, and from 
repeated accounts which I meet with, I am more and more 
induced to believe that many of the swallow kind do not 
depart from this island ; but lay themselves up in holes 
and caverns ; and do, insect-like and bat-like, come forth 
at mild times, and then retire again to their latebrae. Nor 
make I the least doubt but that, if I lived at Newhaven, 
Seaford, Brighthelmstone, or any of those towns near the 
chalk-cliffs of the Sussex coast, by proper observations, I 
should see swallows stirring at periods of the winter, when 
the noons were soft and inviting, and the sun warm and 
invigorating. And I am the more of this opinion from 
what I have remarked during some of our late springs, 
that though some swallows did make their appearance 
about the usual time, viz. the thirteenth or fourteenth of 
April, yet meeting with an harsh reception, and blustering 
cold north-east winds, they immediately withdrew, abscond- 
ing for several days, till the weather gave them better 




April 12, 1772. 

WHILE I was in Sussex last autumn my residence was at 
the village near Lewes, from whence I had formerly the 
pleasure of writing to you. On the first of November 
I remarked that the old tortoise, formerly mentioned, 
began first to dig the ground in order to the forming 
its hybernaculum, which it had fixed on just beside a 
great tuft of hepaticas. It scrapes out the ground with its 
fore-feet, and throws it up over its back with its hind ; 
but the motion of its legs is ridiculously slow, little 
exceeding the hour-hand of a clock ; and suitable to the 
composure of an animal said to be a whole month in 
performing one feat of copulation. Nothing can be more 
assiduous than this creature night and day in scooping the 
earth, and forcing its great body into the cavity; but, 
as the noons of that season proved unusually warm and 
sunny, it was continually interrupted, and called forth 
by the heat in the middle of the day ; and though I 
continued there till the thirteenth of November, yet the 
work remained unfinished. Harsher weather, and frosty 
mornings, would have quickened its operations. No part 
of its behaviour ever struck me more than the extreme 
timidity it always expresses with regard to rain ; for 
though it has a shell that would secure it against the wheel 
of a loaded cart, yet does it discover as much solicitude 
about rain as a lady dressed in all her best attire, shuffling 
away on the first sprinklings, and running its head up in a 
corner. If attended to, it becomes an excellent weather- 
glass ; for as sure as it walks elate, and as it were on 
tiptoe, feeding with great earnestness in a morning, so 
sure will it rain before night. It is totally a diurnal 
animal, and never pretends to stir after it becomes dark, 


The tortoise, like other reptiles, has an arbitrary stomach 
as well as lungs; and can refrain from eating as well 
as breathing- for a great part of the year. When first 
awakened it eats nothing ; nor again in the autumn before 
it retires : through the height of the summer it feeds 
voraciously, devouring all the food that comes in its way. 
I was much taken with its sagacity in discerning those 
that do it kind offices ; for, as soon as the good old 
lady comes in sight who has waited on it for more 
than thirty years, it hobbles towards its benefactress with 
awkward alacrity ; but remains inattentive to strangers. 
Thus not only " the ox knoweth his owner, and the ass 
his master's crib," l but the most abject reptile and torpid 
of beings distinguishes the hand that feeds it, and is 
touched with the feelings of gratitude ! 

I am, etc. etc. 

P.S. In about three days after I left Sussex the tortoise 
retired into the ground under the hepatica. 



Selborne, March 26, 1773. 


THE more I reflect on the a-ropyrj of animals, the more I 
am astonished at its effects. Nor is the violence of this 
affection more wonderful than the shortness of its duration. 
Thus every hen is in her turn the virago of the yard, 
in proportion to the helplessness of her brood ; and will 
fly in the face of a dog or a sow in defence of those 
chickens, which in a few weeks she will drive before 
her with relentless cruelty. 

This affection sublimes the passions, quickens the 
invention, and sharpens the sagacity of the brute creation. 

1 Isaiah i. 3. 


Thus an hen, just become a mother, is no longer that 
placid bird she used to be, but with feathers standing 
on end, wings hovering, and clocking note, she runs 
about like one possessed. Dams will throw themselves 
in the way of the greatest danger in order to avert it 
from their progeny. Thus a partridge will tumble along 
before a sportsman in order to draw away the dogs 
from her helpless covey. In the time of nidification 
the most feeble birds will assault the most rapacious. All 
the hirundines of a village are up in arms at the sight of an 
hawk, whom they will persecute till he leaves that district. 
A very exact observer has often remarked that a pair 
of ravens nesting in the rock of Gibraltar would suffer no 
vulture or eagle to rest near their station, but would drive 
them from the hill with an amazing fury : even the blue 
thrush at the season of breeding would dart out from the 
clefts of the rocks to chase away the kestril, or the 
sparrow-hawk. If you stand near the nest of a bird that 
has young, she will not be induced to betray them by 
an inadvertent fondness, but will wait about at a distance 
with meat in her mouth for an hour together. 

Should I farther corroborate what I have advanced 
above by some anecdotes which I probably may have 
mentioned before in conversation, yet you will, I trust, 
pardon the repetition for the sake of the illustration. 

The flycatcher of the Zoology (the stoparola of Ray), 
builds every year in the vines that grow on the walls of my 
house. A pair of these little birds had one year inadver- 
tently placed their nest on a naked bough, perhaps in 
a shady time, not being aware of the inconvenience that 
followed. But an hot sunny season coming on before the 
brood was half fledged, the reflection of the wall became 
insupportable, and must inevitably have destroyed the 
tender young, had not affection suggested an expedient, 
and prompted the parent-birds to hover over the nest 
all the hotter hours, while with wings expanded, and 
mouths gaping for breath, they screened off the heat from 
their suffering offspring. 

A farther instance I once saw of notable sagacity in 


a willow-wren, which had built in a bank in my fields. 
This bird a friend and myself had observed as she sat 
in her nest ;" but were particularly careful not to disturb 
her, though we saw she eyed us with some degree of 
jealousy. Some days after as we passed that way we were 
desirous of remarking how this brood went on ; but no 
nest could be found, till I happened to take up a large 
bundle of long green moss, as it were, carelessly thrown 
over the nest, in order to dodge the eye of any imperti- 
nent intruder. 

A still more remarkable mixture of sagacity and instinct 
occurred to me one day as my people were pulling off the 
lining of an hotbed, in order to add some fresh dung. 
From out of the side of this bed leaped an animal with 
great agility that made a most grotesque figure ; nor was 
it without great difficulty that it could be taken ; when it 
proved to be a large white-bellied field-mouse with three 
or four young clinging to her teats by their mouths and 
feet. It was amazing that the desultory and rapid motions 
of this dam should not oblige her litter to quit their hold, 
especially when it appeared that they were so young as to 
be both naked and blind ! 

To these instances of tender attachment, many more 
of which might be daily discovered by those that are 
studious of nature, may be opposed that rage of affection, 
that monstrous perversion of the arropyr], which induces 
some females of the brute creation to devour their young 
because their owners have handled them too freely, or 
removed them from place to place! Swine, and some- 
times the more gentle race of dogs and cats, are guilty of 
this horrid and preposterous murder. When I hear now 
and then of an abandoned mother that destroys her off- 
spring, I am not so much amazed ; since reason perverted, 
and the bad passions let loose are capable of any enormity: 
but why the parental feelings of brutes, that usually flow 
in one most uniform tenor, should sometimes be so 
extravagantly diverted, I leave to abler philosophers than 
myself to determine, 

I am, etc. 




Selborne, July 8, 1773. 


SOME young men went down lately to a pond on the verge 
of Wolmer-forest to hunt flappers, or young wild-ducks, 
many of which they caught, and, among the rest, some 
very minute yet well-fledged wild-fowls alive, which upon 
examination, I found to be teals. I did not know till then 
that teals ever bred in the south of England, and was 
much pleased with the discovery : this I look upon as a 
great stroke in natural history. 

We have had, ever since I can remember, a pair of 
white owls that constantly breed under the eaves of this 
church. As I have paid good attention to the manner of 
life of these birds during their season of breeding, which 
lasts the summer through, the following remarks may not 
perhaps be unacceptable : About an hour before sunset 
(for then the mice begin to run) they sally forth in quest 
of prey, and hunt all round the hedges of meadows and 
small enclosures for them, which seem to be their only 
food. In this irregular country we can stand on an 
eminence and see them beat the fields over like a setting- 
dog, and often drop down in the grass or corn. I have 
minuted these birds with my watch for an hour together, 
and have found that they return to their nests, the one or 
the other of them, about once in five minutes ; reflecting 
at the same time on the adroitness that every animal is 
possessed of as regards the well being of itself and off- 
spring. But a piece of address, which they shew when 
they return loaded, should not, I think, be passed over in 
silence. As they take their prey with their claws, so they 
carry it in their claws to their nest : but, as the feet are 
necessary in their ascent under the tiles, they constantly 
perch first on the roof of the chancel, and shift the mouse 


from their claws to their bill, that the feet may be at 
liberty to take hold of the plate on the wall as they 
are rising under the eaves. 

White owls seem not (but in this I am not positive) to 
hoot at all: all that clamorous hooting appears to me to come 
from the wood kinds. The white owl does indeed snore 
and hiss in a tremendous manner ; and these menaces well 
answer the intention of intimidating : for I have known a 
whole village up in arms on such an occasion, imagining 
the church-yard to be full of goblins and spectres. White 
owls also often scream horribly as they fly along ; from 
this screaming probably arose the common people's imagi- 
nary species of screech-owl, which they superstitiously 
think attends the windows of dying persons. The plum- 
age of the remiges of the wings of every species of 
owl that I have yet examined is remarkably soft and pliant. 
Perhaps it may be necessary that the wings of these birds 
should not make much resistance or rushing, that they 
may be enabled to steal through the air unheard upon 
a nimble and watchful quarry. 

While I am talking of owls, it may not be improper to 
mention what I was told by a gentleman of the county of 
Wilts. As they were grubbing a vast hollow pollard-ash 
that had been the mansion of owls for centuries, he 
discovered at the bottom a mass of matter that at first he 
could not account for. After some examination, he found 
it was a congeries of the bones of mice (and perhaps of 
birds and bats) that had been heaping together for ages, 
being cast up in pellets out of the crops of many genera- 
tions of inhabitants. For owls cast up the bones, fur, 
and feathers of what they devour, after the manner of 
hawks. He believes, he told me, that there were bushels 
of this kind of substance. 

When brown owls hoot their throats swell as big as an 
hen's egg. I have known an owl of this species live a full 
year without any water. Perhaps the case may be the 
same with all birds of prey. When owls fly they stretch 
out their legs behind them as a balance to their large 
heavy heads : for as most nocturnal birds have large eyes 


and ears they must have large heads to contain them. 
Large eyes I presume are necessary to collect every ray of 
light, and large concave ears to command the smallest 
degree of sound or noise. 

I am, etc. 

It will be proper to premise here that the sixteenth, eighteenth, 
twentieth, and twenty-first letters have been published already in the 
Philosophical Transactions : but as nicer observation has furnished 
several corrections and additions, it is hoped that the republication of 
them will not give offence ; especially as these sheets would be very 
imperfect without them, and as they will be new to many readers who 
had no opportunity of seeing them when they made their first appearance. 

The hirundines are a most inoffensive, harmless, enter- 
taining, social, and useful tribe of birds: they touch no 
fruit in our gardens ; delight, all except one species, in 
attaching themselves to our houses; amuse us with their 
migrations, songs, and marvellous agility ; and clear our 
outlets from the annoyances of gnats and other trouble- 
some insects. Some districts in the south seas, near 
Guiaquil, 1 are desolated, it seems, by the infinite swarms of 
venomous mosquitoes, which fill the air, and render those 
coasts insupportable. It would be worth inquiring whether 
any species of hirundines is found in those regions. Who- 
ever contemplates the myriads of insects that sport in the 
sunbeams of a summer evening in this country, will soon 
be convinced to what a degree our atmosphere would be 
choked with them was it not for the friendly interposition 
of the swallow tribe. 

Many species of birds have their particular lice; but the 
hirundines alone seem to be annoyed with dipterous insects, 
which infest every species, and are so large, in proportion 
to themselves, that they must be extremely irksome and 
injurious to them. These are the hippoboscae hirundinis, 
with narrow subulated wings, abounding in every nest; 
and are hatched by the warmth of the bird's own body 
during incubation, and crawl about under its feathers. 

A species of them is familiar to horsemen in the south of 
England under the name of forest-fly ; and, to some, of 

1 See Ulloa's Travels. 


side-fly, from its running sideways like a crab. It creeps 
under the tails, and about the groins of horses, which, at 
their first coming out of the north, are rendered half 
frantic by the tickling sensation ; while our own breed 
little regards them. 

The curious Reaumur discovered the large eggs, or 
rather pupae, of these flies as big as the flies themselves, 
which he hatched in his own bosom. Any person that 
will take the trouble to examine the old nests of either 
species of swallows may find in them the black shining 
cases of the pupae of these insects : but for other par- 
ticulars, too long for this place, we refer the reader to 
rHistoire d' Insectes of that admirable entomologist. Tom. 
iv. pi. ii. 



Selborne, Nov. 23, 1773. 


IN obedience to your injunctions I sit down to give you 
some account of the house-martin, or martlet ; and, if my 
monography of this little domestic and familiar bird should 
happen to meet with your approbation, I may probably 
soon extend my inquiries to the rest of the British hirun- 
dines the swallow, the swift, and the bank-martin. 

A few house-martins begin to appear about the six- 
teenth of April ; usually some few days later than the 
swallow. For some time after they appear the hirundines 
in general pay no attention to the business of nidification, 
but play and sport about either to recruit from the fatigue 
of their journey, if they do migrate at all, or else that 
their blood may recover its true tone and texture after it 
has been so long benumbed by the severities of winter. 
About the middle of May, if the weather be fine, the 
martin begins to think in earnest of providing a mansion 


for its family. The crust or shell of this nest seems to 
be formed of such dirt or loam as comes most readily to 
hand, and is tempered and wrought together with little 
bits of broken straws to render it tough and tenacious. 
As this bird often builds against a perpendicular wall 
without any projecting ledge under, it requires its utmost 
efforts to get the first foundation firmly fixed, so that it 
may safely carry the superstructure. On this occasion 
the bird not only clings with its claws, but partly supports 
itself by strongly inclining its tail against the wall, making 
that a fulcrum; and thus steadied it works and plasters 
the materials into the face of the brick or stone. But 
then, that this work may not, while it is soft and green, 
pull itself down by its own weight, the provident architect 
has prudence and forbearance enough not to advance her 
work too fast ; but by building only in the morning, and 
by dedicating the rest of the day to food and amusement, 
gives it sufficient time to dry and harden. About half an 
inch seems to be a sufficient layer for a day. Thus careful 
workmen when they build mud-walls (informed at first 
perhaps by this little bird) raise but a moderate layer at a 
time, and then desist ; lest the work should become top- 
heavy, and so be ruined by its own weight. By this 
method in about ten or twelve days is formed an hemi- 
spheric nest with a small aperture towards the top, strong, 
compact, and warm ; and perfectly fitted for all the 
purposes for which it was intended. But then nothing is 
more common than for the house-sparrow, as soon as the 
shell is finished, to seize on it as its own, to eject the 
owner, and to line it after its own manner. 

After so much labour is bestowed in erecting a mansion, 
as Nature seldom works in vain, martins will breed on 
for several years together in the same nest, where it 
happens to be well sheltered and secure from the injuries 
of weather. The shell or crust of the nest is a sort of 
rustic work full of knobs and protuberances on the 
outside : nor is the inside of those that I have examined 
smoothed with any exactness at all ; but is rendered soft 
and warm, and fit for incubation, by a lining of small 


straws, grasses, and feathers ; and sometimes by a bed of 
moss interwoven with wool. In this nest they tread, or 
engender, frequently during the time of building ; and the 
hen lays from three to five white eggs. 

At first when the young are hatched, and are in a 
naked and helpless condition, the parent birds, with 
tender assiduity, carry out what comes away from their 
young. Was it not for this affectionate cleanliness the 
nestlings would soon be burnt up, and destroyed in so 
deep and hollow a nest, by their own caustic excrement. 
In the quadruped creation the same neat precaution is 
made use of ; particularly among dogs and cats, where 
the dams lick away what proceeds from their young. But 
in birds there seems to be a particular provision, that the 
dung of nestlings is enveloped into a tough kind of jelly, 
and therefore is the easier conveyed off without soiling or 
daubing. Yet, as nature is cleanly in all her ways, the 
young perform this office for themselves in a little time by 
thrusting their tails out at the aperture of their nest. As 
the young of small birds presently arrive at their f/\iKia, or 
full growth, they soon become impatient of confinement, 
and sit all day with their heads out at the orifice, where 
the dams, by clinging to the nest, supply them with food 
from morning to night. For a time the young are fed on 
the wing by their parents ; but the feat is done by so 
quick and almost imperceptible a sleight, that a person 
must have attended very exactly to their motions before 
he would be able to perceive it. As soon as the young 
are able to shift for themselves, the dams immediately 
turn their thoughts to the business of a second brood : 
while the first flight, shaken off and rejected by their 
nurses, congregate in great flocks, and are the birds that 
are seen clustering and hovering on sunny mornings and 
evenings round towers and steeples, and on the roofs of 
churches and houses. These congregatings usually begin 
to take place about the first week in August ; and there- 
fore we may conclude that by that time the first flight is 
pretty well over. The young of this species do not quit 
their abodes all together ; but the more forward birds get 


abroad some days before the rest. These approaching the 
eaves of buildings, and playing about before them, make 
people think that several old ones attend one nest. They 
are often capricious in fixing on a nesting place, beginning 
many edifices, and leaving them unfinished ; but when 
once a nest is completed in a sheltered place, it serves for 
several seasons. Those which breed in a ready finished 
house get the start in hatching of those that build new by 
ten days or a fortnight. These industrious artificers are 
at their labours in the long days before four in the 
morning : when they fix their materials they plaster them 
on with their chins, moving their heads with a quick 
vibratory motion. They dip and wash as they fly some- 
times in very hot weather, but not so frequently as 
swallows. It has been observed that martins usually 
build to a north-east or north-west aspect, that the heat of 
the sun may not crack and destroy their nests : but 
instances are also remembered where they bred for many 
years in vast abundance in an hot stifled inn-yard, against 
a wall facing to the south. 

Birds in general are wise in their choice of situation : 
but in this neighbourhood every summer is seen a strong 
proof to the contrary at an house without eaves in an 
exposed district, where some martins build year by year 
in the corners of the windows. But, as the corners of these 
windows (which face to the south-east and south-west) are 
too shallow, the nests are washed down every hard rain ; 
and yet these birds drudge on to no purpose from summer 
to summer, without changing their aspect or house. It is 
a piteous sight to see them labouring when half their nest 

is washed away and bringing dirt "generis lapsi sarcire 

ruinas." Thus is instinct a most wonderful unequal 
faculty ; in some instances so much above reason, in other 
respects so far below it ! Martins love to frequent towns, 
especially if there are great lakes and rivers at hand ; nay 
they even affect the close air of London. And I have not 
only seen them nesting in the Borough, but even in the 
Strand and Fleet-street ; but then it was obvious from the 
dinginess of their aspect that their feathers partook of 


the filth of that sooty atmosphere. Martins are by far the 
least agile of the four species ; their wings and tails are 
short, and therefore they are not capable of such surprising 
turns and quick and glancing evolutions as the swallow. 
Accordingly they make use of a placid easy motion in a 
middle region of the air, seldom mounting to any great 
height, and never sweeping long together over the surface 
of the ground or water. They do not wander far for 
food, but affect sheltered districts, over some lake, or 
under some hanging wood, or in some hollow vale, 
especially in windy weather. They breed the latest of all 
the swallow kind: in 1772 they had nestlings on to 
October the twenty-first, and are never without unfledged 
young as late as Michaelmas. 

As the summer declines the congregating flocks increase 
in numbers daily by the constant accession of the second 
broods ; till at last they swarm in myriads upon myriads 
round the villages on the Thames, darkening the face of 
the sky as they frequent the aits of that river, where they 
roost. They retire, the bulk of them I mean, in vast 
flocks together about the beginning of October : but have 
appeared of late years in a considerable flight in this neigh- 
bourhood, for one day or two, as late as November the 
third and sixth, after they were supposed to have been 
gone for more than a fortnight. They therefore withdraw 
with us the latest of any species. Unless these birds are 
very short-lived indeed, or unless they do not return to 
the district where they are bred, they must undergo vast 
devastations some how, and some where ; for the birds 
that return yearly bear no manner of proportion to the 
birds that retire. 

House-martins are distinguished from their congeners 
by having their legs covered with soft downy feathers 
down to their toes. They are no songsters ; but twitter 
in a pretty inward soft manner in their nests. During 
the time of breeding they are often greatly molested 
with fleas. 

I am, etc. 



Ringmer, near Lewes, Dec. 9, 1773. 


I RECEIVED your last favour just as I was setting out for 
this place ; and am pleased to find that my monography 
met with your approbation. My remarks are the result 
of many years' observation ; and are, I trust, true on the 
whole : though I do not pretend to say that they are 
perfectly void of mistake, or that a more nice observer 
might not make many additions, since subjects of this 
kind are inexhaustible. 

If you think my letter worthy the notice of your 
respectable society, you are at liberty to lay it before 
them ; and they will consider it, I hope, as it was 
intended, as an humble attempt to promote a more 
minute inquiry into natural history ; into the life and 
conversation of animals. Perhaps hereafter I may be 
induced to take the house-swallow under consideration ; 
and from that proceed to the rest of the British 

Though I have now travelled the Sussex-downs upwards 
of thirty years, yet I still investigate that chain of majestic 
mountains with fresh admiration year by year; and think 
I see new beauties every time I traverse it. This range, 
which runs from Chichester eastward as far as East-Bourn, 
is about sixty miles in length, and is called The South 
Downs, properly speaking, only round Lewes. As you 
pass along you command a noble view of the wild, 
or weald, on one hand, and the broad downs and 
sea on the other. Mr. Ray used to visit a family 1 just 
at the foot of these hills, and was so ravished with 
the prospect from Plumpton-plain near Lewes, that he 
mentions those scapes in his " Wisdom of God in the 

1 Mr. Courthope, of Danny. 


Works of the Creation " with the utmost satisfaction, and 
thinks them equal to any thing he had seen in the finest 
parts of Europe. 

For my own part, I think there is somewhat peculiarly 
sweet and amusing in the shapely figured aspect of chalk- 
hills in preference to those of stone, which are rugged, 
broken, abrupt, and shapeless. 

Perhaps I may be singular in my opinion, and not so 
happy as to convey to you the same idea ; but I never 
contemplate these mountains without thinking I perceive 
somewhat analogous to growth in their gentie swellings 
and smooth fungus-like protuberances, their fluted sides, 
and regular hollows and slopes, that carry at once the air 

of vegetative dilatation and expansion Or was 

there ever a time when these immense masses of calcarious 
matter were thrown into fermentation by some adventitious 
moisture; were raised and leavened into such shapes by 
some plastic power ; and so made to swell and heave their 
broad backs into the sky so much above the less animated 
clay of the wild below ? 

By what I can guess from the admeasurements of the 
hills that have been taken round my house, I should 
suppose that these hills surmount the wild at an average 
at about the rate of five hundred feet. 

One thing is very remarkable as to the sheep : from the 
westward till you get to the river Adur all the flocks have 
horns, and smooth white faces, and white legs ; and a 
hornless sheep is rarely to be seen: but as soon as you 
pass that river eastward, and mount Beeding-hill, all the 
flocks at once become hornless, or, as they call them, poll- 
sheep ; and have moreover black faces with a white tuft 
of wool on their foreheads, and speckled and spotted legs : 
so that you would think that the flocks of Laban were 
pasturing on one side of the stream, and the variegated 
breed of his son-in-law Jacob were cantoned along on the 
other. And this diversity holds good respectively on 
each side from the valley of Bramber and Beeding to the 
eastward, and westward all the whole length of the downs. 
If you talk with the shepherds on this subject, they tell 


you that the case has been so from time immemorial : and 
smile at your simplicity if you ask them whether the 
situation of these two different breeds might not be 
reversed? However, an intelligent friend of mine near 
Chichester is determined to try the experiment ; and has 
this autumn, at the hazard of being laughed at, introduced 
a parcel of black-faced hornless rams among his horned 
western ewes. The black-faced poll-sheep have the 
shortest legs and the finest wool. 

As I had hardly ever before travelled these downs at so 
late a season of the year, I was determined to keep as 
sharp a look-out as possible so near the southern coast, 
with respect to the summer short-winged birds of passage. 
We make great inquiries concerning the withdrawing of 
the swallow kind, without examining enough into the 
causes why this tribe is never to be seen in winter ; for, 
entre nous, the disappearing of the latter is more marvellous 
than that of the former, and much more unaccountable. 
The hirundines, if they please, are certainly capable of 
migration ; and yet no doubt are often found in a torpid 
state : but redstarts, nightingales, white-throats, black- 
caps, etc. etc. are very ill provided for long flights ; have 
never been once found, as I ever heard of, in a torpid 
state, and yet can never be supposed, in such troops, from 
year to year to dodge and elude the eyes of the curious 
and inquisitive, which from day to day discern the other 
small birds that are known to abide our winters. But, 
notwithstanding all my care, I saw nothing like a summer 
bird of passage : and, what is more strange, not one 
wheat-ear, though they abound so in the autumn as to be 
a considerable perquisite to the shepherds that take them ; 
and though many are to be seen to my knowledge all the 
winter through in many parts of the south of England. 
The most intelligent shepherds tell me that some few of 
these birds appear on the downs in March, and then 
withdraw to breed probably in warrens and stone-quarries : 
now and then a nest is plowed up in a fallow on the 
downs under a furrow, but it is thought a rarity. At the 
time of wheat-harvest they begin to be taken in great 


numbers ; are sent for sale in vast quantities to Bright- 
helmstone and Tunbridge ; and appear at the tables of 
all the gentry that entertain with any degree of elegance. 
About Michaelmas they retire and are seen no more till 
March. Though these birds are, when in season, in great 
plenty on the south downs round Lewes, yet at East- 
Bourn, which is the eastern extremity of those downs, 
they abound much more. One thing is very remarkable 
that though in the height of the season so many 
hundreds of dozens are taken, yet they never are seen 
to flock ; and it is a rare thing to see more than three 
or four at a time : so that there must be a perpetual 
flitting and constant progressive succession. It does 
not appear that any wheat-ears are taken to the 
westward of Houghton-bridge, which stands on the 
river Arun. 

I did not fail to look particularly after my new migration 
of ring-ousels ; and to take notice whether they continued 
on the downs to this season of the year ; as I had formerly 
remarked them in the month of October all the way from 
Chichester to Lewes wherever there were any shrubs and 
covert: but not one bird of this sort came within my 
observation. I only saw a few larks and whin-chats, some 
rooks, and several kites and buzzards. 

About Midsummer a flight of cross-bills comes to the 
pine-groves about this house, but never makes any long 

The old tortoise, that I have mentioned in a former 
letter, still continues in this garden ; and retired under 
ground about the twentieth of November, and came out 
again for one day on the thirtieth : it lies now buried in a 
wet swampy border under a wall facing to the south, and 
is enveloped at present in mud and mire ! 

Here is a large rookery round this house, the inhabitants 
of which seem to get their livelihood very easily ; for they 
spend the greatest part of the day on their nest-trees when 
the weather is mild. These rooks retire every evening all 
the winter from this rookery, where they only call by the 
way, as they are going to roost in deep woods : at the 


dawn of day they always revisit their nest-trees, and are 
preceded a few minutes by a flight of daws, that act, as it 
were, as their harbingers. T 

J. tUYl CtC* 


Selborne, Jan. 29, 1774. 


THE house-swallow, or chimney-swallow, is undoubtedly 
the first comer of all the British hirundines ; and appears 
in general on or about the thirteenth of April, as I have 
remarked from many years' observation. Not but now 
and then a straggler is seen much earlier : and, in par- 
ticular, when I was a boy I observed a swallow for a whole 
day together on a sunny warm Shrove Tuesday; which 
day could not fall out later than the middle of March, and 
often happened early in February. 

It is worth remarking that these birds are seen first 
about lakes and mill-ponds ; and it is also very particular, 
that if these early visitors happen to find frost and snow, 
as was the case of the two dreadful springs of 1770 and 
1771, they immediately withdraw for a time. A circum- 
stance this much more in favour of hiding than migration ; 
since it is much more probable that a bird should retire to 
its hybernaculum just at hand, than return for a week or 
two only to warmer latitudes. 

The swallow, though called the chimney-swallow, by no 
means builds altogether in chimneys, but often within barns 
and out- houses against the rafters ; and so she did in 
Virgil's time : 

" Ante 

Garruia quam tignis nidos suspendat hirundo." 

In Sweden she builds in barns, and is called ladu swala, 
the barn-swallow. Besides, in the warmer parts of Europe 


there are no chimneys to houses, except they are English- 
built : in these countries she constructs her nest in porches, 
and gateways, and galleries, and open halls. 

Here and there a bird may affect some odd, peculiar 
place ; as we have known a swallow build down the shaft 
of an old well, through which chalk had been formerly 
drawn up for the purpose of manure : but in general with 
us this hirundo breeds in chimneys; and loves to haunt 
those stacks where there is a constant fire, no doubt for 
the sake of warmth. Not that it can subsist in the 
immediate shaft where there is a fire; but prefers one 
adjoining to that of the kitchen, and disregards the 
perpetual smoke of that funnel, as I have often observed 
with some degree of wonder. 

Five or six or more feet down the chimney does this 
little bird begin to form her nest about the middle of May, 
which consists, like that of the house-martin, of a crust or 
shell composed of dirt or mud, mixed with short pieces of 
straw to render it tough and permanent ; with this differ- 
ence, that whereas the shell of the martin is nearly 
hemispheric, that of the swallow is open at the top, and 
like half a deep dish : this nest is lined with fine grasses, 
and feathers which are often collected as they float in 
the air. 

Wonderful is the address which this adroit bird shows 
all day long in ascending and descending with security 
through so narrow a pass. When hovering over the 
mouth of the funnel, the vibrations of her wings acting on 
the confined air occasion a rumbling like thunder. It is 
not improbable that the dam submits to this inconvenient 
situation so low in the shaft, in order to secure her broods 
from rapacious birds, and particularly from owls, which 
frequently fall down chimneys, perhaps in attempting to 
get at these nestlings. 

The swallow lays from four to six white eggs, dotted 
with red specks ; and brings out her first brood about the 
last week in June, or the first week in July. The pro- 
gressive method by which the young are introduced into 
life is very amusing : first, they emerge from the shaft 


with difficulty enough, and often fall down into the rooms 
below : for a day or so they are fed on the chimney-top, 
and then are conducted to the dead leafless bough of some 
tree, where, sitting in a row, they are attended with great 
assiduity, and may then be called perchers. In a day or 
two more they become flyers, but are still unable to take 
their own food ; therefore they play about near the place 
where the dams are hawking for flies; and, when a 
mouthful is collected, at a certain signal given, the dam 
and the nestling advance, rising towards each other, and 
meeting at an angle ; the young one all the while uttering 
such a little quick note of gratitude and complacency, that 
a person must have paid very little regard to the wonders 
of Nature that has not often remarked this feat. 

The dam betakes herself immediately to the business of 
a second brood as soon as she is disengaged from her first; 
which at once associates with the first broods of house- 
martins ; and with them congregates, clustering on sunny 
roofs, towers, and trees. This hirundo brings out her 
second brood towards the middle and end of August. 

All the summer long is the swallow a most instructive 
pattern of unwearied industry and affection ; for, from 
morning to night, while there is a family to be supported, 
she spends the whole day in skimming close to the ground, 
and exerting the most sudden turns and quick evolutions. 
Avenues, and long walks under hedges, and pasture-fields, 
and mown meadows where cattle graze, are her delight, 
especially if there are trees interspersed ; because in such 
spots insects most abound. When a fly is taken a smart 
snap from her bill is heard, resembling the noise at the 
shutting of a watch-case ; but the motion of the mandibles 
are too quick for the eye. 

The swallow, probably the male bird, is the excubitor to 
house-martins, and other little birds, announcing the 
approach of birds of prey. For as soon as an hawk 
appears, with a shrill alarming note he calls all the swal- 
lows and martins about him ; who pursue in a body, and 
buffet and strike their enemy till they have driven him 
from the village, darting down from above on his back, 


and rising in a perpendicular line in perfect security. 
This bird also will sound the alarm, and strike at cats 
when they climb on the roofs of houses, or otherwise 
approach the nests. Each species of hirundo drinks as it 
flies along, sipping the surface of the water; but the 
swallow alone, in general, washes on the wing, by dropping 
into a pool for many times together : in very hot weather 
house-martins and bank-martins dip and wash little. 

The swallow is a delicate songster, and in soft sunny 
weather sings both perching and flying ; on trees in a kind 
of concert, and on chimney tops: is also a bold flyer, 
ranging to distant downs and commons even in windy 
weather, which the other species seem much to dislike ; 
nay, even frequenting exposed sea-port towns, and making 
little excursions over the salt water. Horsemen on wide 
downs are often closely attended by a little party, of 
swallows for miles together, which plays before and behind 
them, sweeping around, and collecting all the sculking 
insects that are roused by the trampling of the horses' feet : 
when the wind blows hard, without this expedient, they 
are often forced to settle to pick up their lurking prey. 

This species feeds much on little coleoptera, as well as on 
gnats and flies : and often settles on dug ground, or paths, 
for gravels to grind and digest its food. Before they 
depart, for some weeks, to a bird, they forsake houses and 
chimneys, and roost in trees ; and usually withdraw about 
the beginning of October ; though some few stragglers 
may appear on at times till the first week in November. 

Some few pairs haunt the new and open streets of 
London next the fields, but do not enter, like the house- 
martin, the close and crowded parts of the city. 

Both male and female are distinguished from their con- 
geners by the length and forkedness of their tails. They 
are undoubtedly the most nimble of all the species : and 
when the male pursues the female in amorous chase, they 
then go beyond their usual speed, and exert a rapidity 
almost too quick for the eye to follow. 

After this circumstantial detail of the life and discerning 
rj of the swallow, I shall add, for your farther amuse- 


ment, an anecdote or two not much in favour of her 
sagacity : 

A certain swallow built for two years together on the 
handles of a pair of garden-shears, that were stuck up 
against the boards in an out-house, and therefore must 
have her nest spoiled whenever that implement was wanted: 
and, what is stranger still, another bird of the same species 
built its nest on the wings and body of an owl that 
happened by accident to hang dead and dry from the 
rafter of a barn. This owl, with the nest on its wings, and 
with eggs in the nest, was brought as a curiosity worthy 
the most elegant private museum in Great-Britain. The 
owner, struck with the oddity of the sight, furnished the 
bringer with a large shell, or conch, desiring him to fix it 
just where the owl hung: the person did as. he was ordered, 
and the following year a pair, probably the same pair, 
built their nest in the conch, and laid their eggs. 

The owl and the conch make a strange grotesque 
appearance, and are not the least curious specimens in 
that wonderful collection of art and nature. 1 

Thus is instinct in animals, taken the least out of its 
way, an undistinguishing, limited faculty; and blind to 
every circumstance that does not immediately respect self- 
preservation, or lead at once to the propagation or support 

of their species. 

1 am, 

With all respect, etc. etc. 



Sel borne, Feb. 14, 1774. 

I RECEIVED your favour of the eighth, and am pleased to 
find that you read my little history of the swallow with 

1 Sir Ashton Lever's Museum. 


your usual candour : nor was I less pleased to find that 
you made objections where you saw reason. 

As to the quotations, it is difficult to say precisely which 
species of hirundo Virgil might intend in the lines in ques- 
tion, since the ancients did not attend to specific differences 
like modern naturalists : yet somewhat may be gathered, 
enough to incline me to suppose that in the two passages 
quoted the poet had his eye on the swallow. 

In the first place the epithet garrula suits the swallow 
well, who is a great songster; but not the martin, which is 
rather a mute bird ; and when it sings is so inward as scarce 
to be heard. Besides, if tignum in that place signifies a 
rafter rather than a beam, as it seems to me to do, then I 
think it must be the swallow that is alluded to, and not the 
martin ; since the former does frequently build within the 
roof against the rafters ; while the latter always, as far as I 
have been able to observe, builds without the roof against 
eaves and cornices. 

As to the simile, too much stress must not be laid on it: 
yet the epithet nigra speaks plainly in favour of the swallow, 
whose back and wings are very black ; while the rump of 
the martin is milk-white, its back and wings blue, and all 
its under part white as snow. Nor can the clumsy motions 
(comparatively clumsy) of the martin well represent the 
sudden and artful evolutions and quick turns which Juturna 
gave to her brother's chariot, so as to elude the eager pursuit 
of the enraged Aeneas. The verb sonat also seems to imply 
a bird that is somewhat loquacious. 1 

We have had a very wet autumn and winter, so as to 
raise the springs to a pitch beyond any thing since 1764; 
which was a remarkable year for floods and high waters. 
The landsprings, which we call lavattts, break out much on 
the downs of Sussex, Hampshire and Wiltshire. The country 
people say when the lavants rise corn will always be dear ; 

1 " Nigra velut magnas domini cum divitis aedes 
Pervolat, et pennis alta atria lustrat hirundo, 
Pabula parva legens, nidisque loquacibus escas: 
Et nunc porticibus vacuis, nunc humida circum 
Stagna sonat. ." AEN. xii. 473-477. 


meaning that when the earth is so glutted with water as to 
send forth springs on the downs and uplands, that the corn- 
vales must be drowned ; and so it has proved for these ten 
or eleven years past. For land-springs have never obtained 
more since the memory of man than during that period ; 
nor has there been known a greater scarcity of all sorts of 
grain, considering the great improvements of modern 
husbandry. Such a run of wet seasons a century or two 
ago would, I am persuaded, have occasioned a famine. 
Therefore pamphlets and newspaper letters, that talk of 
combinations, tend to inflame and mislead ; since we must 
not expect plenty till Providence sends us more favourable 

The wheat of last year, all round this district, and in the 
county of Rutland, and elsewhere, yields remarkably bad : 
and our wheat on the ground, by the continual late sudden 
vicissitudes from fierce frost to pouring rains, looks poorly ; 
and the turnips rot very fast. 



Selborne, Feb. 26, 1774. 


THE sand-martin, or bank-martin, is by much the least of 
any of the British hirundines ; and, as far as we have ever 
seen, the smallest known hirundo: though Brisson asserts that 
there is one much smaller, and that is the hirundo esculenta. 
But it is much to be regretted that it is scarce possible 
for any observer to be so full and exact as he could wish 
in reciting the circumstances attending the life and conver- 
sation of this little bird, since it \% fera naturd, at least in 
this part of the kingdom, disclaiming all domestic attach- 
ments, and haunting wild heaths and commons where there 
are large lakes ; while the other species, especially the 


swallow and house-martin, are remarkably gentle and 
domesticated, and never seem to think themselves safe but 
under the protection of man. 

Here are in this parish, in the sand-pits and banks of 
the lakes of Wolmer-forest, several colonies of these birds ; 
and yet they are never seen in the village ; nor do they at 
all frequent the cottages that are scattered about in that 
wild district. The only instance I ever remember where 
this species haunts any building is at the town of Bishop's 
Waltham, in this county, where many sand-martins nestle 
and breed in the scaffold-holes of the back-wall of William 
of Wykeham's stables : but then this wall stands in a very 
sequestered and retired enclosure, and faces upon a large 
and beautiful lake. And indeed this species seems so to 
delight in large waters, that no instance occurs of their 
abounding, but near vast pools or rivers : and in particular 
it has been remarked that they swarm in the banks of the 
Thames in some places below London-bridge. 

It is curious to observe with what different degrees of 
architectonic skill Providence has endowed birds of the 
same genus, and so nearly correspondent in their general 
mode of life ! for while the swallow and the house-martin 
discover the greatest address in raising and securely fixing 
crusts or shells of loam as cunabula for their young, the 
bank-martin terebrates a round and regular hole in the 
sand or earth, which is serpentine, horizontal, and about 
two feet deep. At the inner end of this burrow does this 
bird deposit, in a good degree of safety, her rude nest, 
consisting of fine grasses and feathers, usually goose- 
feathers, very inartificially laid together. 

Perseverance will accomplish anything : though at first 
one would be disinclined to believe that this weak bird, with 
her soft and tender bill and claws, should ever be able to 
bore the stubborn sand-bank without entirely disabling 
herself; yet with these feeble instruments have I seen a 
pair of them make great dispatch : and could remark how 
much they had scooped that day by the fresh sand which 
ran down the bank, and was of a different colour from that 
which lay loose and bleached in the sun. 


In what space of time these little artists are able to mine 
and finish these cavities I have never been able to discover, 
for reasons given above ; but it would be a matter worthy 
of observation, where it falls in the way of any naturalist to 
make his remarks. This I have often taken notice of, that 
several holes of different depths are left unfinished -at the 
end of summer. To imagine that these beginnings were 
intentionally made in order to be in the greater forward- 
ness for next spring, is allowing perhaps too much foresight 
and rerum prudentia to a simple bird. May not the cause 
of these latebrae being left unfinished arise from their 
meeting in those places with strata too harsh, hard, and 
solid, for their purpose, which they relinquish, and go to a 
fresh spot that works more freely ? Or may they not in 
other places fall in with a soil as much too loose and 
mouldering, liable to flounder, and threatening to over- 
whelm them and their labours ? 

One thing is remarkable that, after some years, the old 
holes are forsaken and new ones bored; perhaps because 
the old habitations grow foul and fetid from long use, or 
because they may so abound with fleas as to become un- 
tenable. This species of swallow moreover is strangely 
annoyed with fleas : and we have seen fleas, bed-fleas 
(pulex irritatu\ swarming at the mouths of these holes, like 
bees upon the stools of their hives. 

The following circumstance should by no means be 
omitted that these birds do not make use of their caverns 
by way of hybernacula, as might be expected ; since banks 
so perforated have been dug out with care in the winter, 
when nothing was found but empty nests. 

The sand-martin arrives much about the same time with 
the swallow, and lays, as she does, from four to six white 
eggs. But as this species is cryptogame, carrying on the 
business of nidification, incubation, and the support of its 
young in the dark, it would not be so easy to ascertain the 
time of breeding, were it not for the coming forth of the 
broods, which appear much about the time, or rather some- 
what earlier than those of the swallow. The nestlings are 
supported in common like those of their congeners, with 


gnats and other small insects ; and sometimes they are fed 
with libellulae (dragon-flies) almost as long as themselves. 
In the last week in June we have seen a row of these sitting 
on a rail near a great pool as perchers ; and so young and 
helpless, as easily to be taken by hand : but whether the 
dams ever feed them on the wing, as swallows and house- 
martins do, we have never yet been able to determine ; 
nor do we know whether they pursue and attack birds of 

When they happen to breed near hedges and enclosures, 
they are dispossessed of their breeding holes by the house- 
sparrow, which is on the same account a fell adversary to 

These hirundines are no songsters, but rather mute, 
making only a little harsh noise when a person approaches 
their nests. They seem not to be of a sociable turn, never 
with us congregating with their congeners in the autumn. 
Undoubtedly they breed a second time, like the house- 
martin and swallow ; and withdraw about Michaelmas. 

Though in some particular districts they may happen to 
abound, yet in the whole, in the south of England at least, 
is this much the rarest species. For there are few towns or 
large villages but what abound with house-martins ; few 
churches, towers, or steeples, but what are haunted by 
some swifts; scarce a hamlet or single cottage-chimney 
that has not its swallow ; while the bank-martins, scattered 
here and there, live a sequestered life among some abrupt 
sand-hills, and in the banks of some few rivers. 

These birds have a peculiar manner of flying ; flitting 
about with odd jerks, and vacillations, not unlike the 
motions of a butterfly. Doubtless the flight of all hirun- 
dines is influenced by and adapted to, the peculiar sort of 
insects which furnish their food. Hence it would be worth 
inquiry to examine what particular group of insects affords 
the principal food of each respective species of swallow. 

Notwithstanding what has been advanced above, some 
few sand-martins, I see, haunt the skirts of London, fre- 
quenting the dirty pools in Saint George's-Fields, and about 
White-Chapel. The question is where these build, since 


there are no banks or bold shores in that neighbourhood : 
perhaps they nestle in the scaffold holes of some old or new 
deserted building. They dip and wash as they fly some- 
times, like the house-martin and swallow. 

Sand-martins differ from their congeners in the diminu- 
tiveness of their size, and in their colour, which is what is 
usually called a mouse-colour. Near Valencia in Spain, 
they are taken, says Willughby, and sold in the markets 
for the table ; and are called by the country people, prob- 
ably from their desultory jerking manner of flight, Papilion 
de Montagna. 



Selborne, Sept. 28, 1774. 


As the swift or black-martin is the largest of the British 
hirundines, so is it undoubtedly the latest comer. For I 
remember but one instance of its appearing before the last 
week in April : and in some of our late frosty, harsh 
springs, it has not been seen till the beginning of May. 
This species usually arrives in pairs. 

The swift, like the sand-martin, is very defective in 
architecture, making no crust, or shell, for its nest ; but 
forming it of dry grasses and feathers, very rudely and 
inartificially put together. With all my attention to these 
birds, I have never been able once to discover one in the 
act of collecting or carrying in materials : so that I have 
suspected (since their nests are exactly the same) that they 
sometimes usurp upon the house-sparrows, and expel them, 
as sparrows do the house and sand-martin ; well remem- 
bering that I have seen them squabbling together at the 
entrance of their holes ; and the sparrows up in arms, and 
much disconcerted at these intruders. And yet I am 
assured, by a nice observer in such matters, that they do 


collect feathers for their nests in Andalusia; and that he 
has shot them with such materials in their mouths. 

Swifts, like sand-martins, carry on the business of nidifi- 
cation quite in the dark, in crannies of castles, and towers, 
and steeples, and upon the tops of the walls of churches 
under the roof; and therefore cannot be so narrowly 
watched as those species that build more openly : but, 
from what I could ever observe, they begin nesting about 
the middle of May; and I have remarked, from eggs taken, 
that they have sat hard by the ninth of June. In general 
they haunt tall buildings, churches, and steeples, and breed 
only in such : yet in this village some pairs frequent the 
lowest and meanest cottages, and educate their young under 
those thatched roofs. We remember but one instance where 
they breed out of buildings ; and that is in the sides of a 
deep chalkpit near the town of Odiham, in this county, 
where we have seen many pairs entering the crevices, and 
skimming and squeaking round the precipices. 

As I have regarded these amusive birds with no small 
attention, if I should advance something new and peculiar 
with respect to them, and different from all other birds, 
I might perhaps be credited ; especially as my assertion is 
the result of many years' exact observation. The fact that 
I would advance is, that swifts tread, or copulate, on the 
wing : and I would wish any nice observer, that is startled 
at this supposition, to use his own eyes, and I think he 
will soon be convinced. In another class of animals, viz. 
the insect, nothing is so common as to see the different 
species of many genera in conjunction as they fly. The 
swift is almost continually on the wing ; and as it never 
settles on the ground, on trees, or roofs, would seldom find 
opportunity for amorous rites, was it not enabled to indulge 
them in the air. If any person would watch these birds of 
a fine morning in May, as they are sailing round at a great 
height from the ground, he would see, every now and then, 
one drop on the back of another, and both of them sink 
down together for many fathoms with a loud piercing 
shriek. This I take to be the juncture when the business 
of generation is carrying on. 


As the swift eats, drinks, collects materials for its nest, 
and, as its seems, propagates on the wing ; it appears to 
live more in the air than any other bird, and to perform all 
functions there save those of sleeping and incubation. 

This hirundo differs widely from its congeners in laying 
invariably but two eggs at a time, which are milk-white, 
long, and peaked at the small end; whereas the other 
species lay at each brood from four to six. It is a most 
alert bird, rising very early, and retiring to roost very late ; 
and is on the wing in the height of summer at least sixteen 
hours. In the longest days it does not withdraw to rest 
till a quarter before nine in the evening, being the latest of 
all day birds. Just before they retire whole groups of them 
assemble high in the air, and squeak, and shoot about with 
wonderful rapidity. But this bird is never so much alive 
as in sultry thundry weather, when it expresses great 
alacrity, and calls forth all its powers. In hot mornings 
several, getting together in little parties, dash round the 
steeples and churches, squeaking as they go in a very 
clamorous manner : these, by nice observers, are supposed 
to be males, serenading their sitting hens ; and not without 
reason, since they seldom squeak till they come close to 
the walls or eaves, and since those within utter at the same 
time a little inward note of complacency. 

When the hen has sat hard all day, she rushes forth just 
as it is almost dark, and stretches and relieves her weary 
limbs, and snatches a scanty meal for a few minutes, and 
then returns to her duty of incubation. Swifts, when 
wantonly and cruelly shot while they have young, discover 
a little lump of insects in their mouths, which they pouch 
and hold under their tongue. In general they feed in a 
much higher district than the other species ; a proof that 
gnats and other insects do also abound to a considerable 
height in the air : they also range to vast distances ; 
since loco-motion is no labour to them, who are endowed 
with such wonderful powers of wing. Their powers 
seem to be in proportion to their levers ; and their 
wings are longer in proportion than those of almost any 
other bird. When they mute, or ease themselves in 


flight, they raise their wings, and make them meet over 
their backs. 

At some certain times in the summer I had remarked 
that swifts were hawking very low for hours together over 
pools and streams ; and could not help inquiring into the 
object of their pursuit that induced them to descend so 
much below their usual range. After some trouble, I found 
that they were taking phryganeae, ephemerae, and libellulae 
(cadew-flies, may-flies, and dragon-flies) that were just 
emerged out of their aurelia state. I then no longer won- 
dered that they should be so willing to stoop for a prey that 
afforded them such plentiful and succulent nourishment. 

They bring out their young about the middle or latter 
end of July : but as these never become perchers, nor, 
that ever I could discern, are fed on the wing by their 
dams, the coming forth of the young is not so notorious 
as in the other species. 

On the thirtieth of last June I untiled the eaves of an 
house where many pairs build, and found in each nest only 
two squab naked pulli : on the eighth of July I repeated the 
same inquiry, and found they had made very little progress 
towards a fledged state, but were still naked and helpless. 
From whence we may conclude that birds whose way of 
life keeps them perpetually on the wing would not be able 
to quit their nest till the end of the month. Swallows and 
martins, that have numerous families, are continually feed- 
ing them every two or three minutes ; while swifts, that 
have but two young to maintain, are much at their leisure, 
and do not attend on their nests for hours together. 

Sometimes they pursue and strike at hawks that come in 
their way ; but not with that vehemence and fury that 
swallows express on the same occasion. They are out all 
day long in wet days, feeding about, and disregarding still 
rain : from whence two things may be gathered ; first, 
that many insects abide high in the air, even in rain ; and 
next, that the feathers of these birds must be well preened 
to resist so much wet. Windy, and particularly windy 
weather with heavy showers, they dislike ; and on such 
days withdraw, and are scarce ever seen. 


There is a circumstance respecting the colour of swifts, 
which seems not to be unworthy our attention. When 
they arrive in the spring they are all over of a glossy, dark 
soot-colour, except their chins, which are white ; but, by 
being all day long in the sun and air, they become quite 
weather-beaten and bleached before they depart, and yet 
they return glossy again in the spring. Now, if they pur- 
sue the sun into lower latitudes, as some suppose, in order 
to enjoy a perpetual summer, why do they not return 
bleached ? Do they not rather perhaps retire to rest for 
a season, and at that juncture moult and change their 
feathers, since all other birds are known to moult soon 
after the season of breeding. 

Swifts are very anomalous in many particulars, dissenting 
from all their congeners not only in the number of their 
young, but in breeding but once in a summer ; whereas all 
the other British hirundines breed invariably twice. It is 
past all doubt that swifts can breed but once, since they 
withdraw in a short time after the flight of their young, 
and some time before their congeners bring out their 
second brood. We may here remark, that, as swifts breed 
but once in a summer, and only two at a time, and the 
other hirundines twice, the latter, who lay from four to six 
eggs, increase at an average five times as fast as the former. 

But in nothing are swifts more singular than in their 
early retreat. They retire, as to the main body of them, 
by the tenth of August, and sometimes a few days sooner : 
and every straggler invariably withdraws by the twentieth, 
while their congeners, all of them, stay till the beginning 
of October ; many of them all through that month, and 
some occasionally to the beginning of November. This 
early retreat is mysterious and wonderful, since that time 
is often the sweetest season in the year. But, what is more 
extraordinary, they begin to retire still earlier in the most 
southerly parts of Andalusia, where they can be no ways 
influenced by any defect of heat ; or, as one might suppose, 
defect of food. Are they regulated in their motions with 
us by a failure of food, or by a propensity to moulting, or 
by a disposition to rest after so rapid a life, or by what ? 


This is one of those incidents in natural history that not 
only baffles our searches, but almost eludes our guesses ! 

These hirundines never perch on trees or roofs, and so 
never congregate with their congeners. They are fearless 
while haunting their nesting places, and are not to be scared 
with a gun ; and are often beaten down with poles and 
cudgels as they stoop to go under the eaves. Swifts are 
much infested with those pests to the genus called hippo- 
boscae hirundinis ; and often wriggle and scratch themselves, 
in their flight, to get rid of that clinging annoyance. 

Swifts are no songsters, and have only one harsh scream- 
ing note ; yet there are ears to which it is not displeasing, 
from an agreeable association of ideas, since that note never 
occurs but in the most lovely summer weather. 

They never settle on the ground but through accident ; 
and when down can hardly rise, on account of the short- 
ness of their legs and the length of their wings : neither can 
they walk, but only crawl ; but they have a strong grasp 
with their feet, by which they cling to walls. Their bodies 
being flat they can enter a very narrow crevice ; and where 
they cannot pass on their bellies they will turn up edgewise. 

The particular formation of the foot discriminates the 
swift from all British hirundines ; and indeed from all other 
known birds, the hirundo melba, or great white-bellied swift 
of Gibraltar, excepted ; for it is so disposed as to carry 
"omnes quatuor digitos anticos" all its four toes forward; 
besides the least toe, which should be the back-toe, consists 
of one bone alone, and the other three only of two apiece. 
A construction most rare and peculiar, but nicely adapted 
to the purposes in which their feet are employed. This, 
and some peculiarities attending the nostrils and under 
mandible, have induced a discerning naturalist x to suppose 
that this species might constitute a genus per se. 

In London a party of swifts frequents the Tower, 
playing and feeding over the river just below the bridge : 
others haunt some of the churches of the Borough next 
the fields ; but do not venture, like the house-martin, into 
the close crowded part of the town. 

1 John Antony Scopoli, of Carniola, M.D. 


The Swedes have bestowed a very pertinent name on 
this swallow, calling it ring swa/a, from the perpetual rings 
or circles that it takes round the scene of its nidification. 

Swifts feed on co/eopfera, or small beetles with hard cases 
over their wings, as well as on the softer insects ; but it 
does not appear how they can procure gravel to grind their 
food, as swallows do, since they never settle on the ground. 
Young ones, over-run with hippoboscae, are sometimes 
found, under their nests, fallen to the ground : the number 
of vermin rendering their abode insupportable any longer. 
They frequent in this village several abject cottages : yet a 
succession still haunts the same unlikely roofs : a good 
proof this that the same birds return to the same spots. 
As they must stoop very low to get up under these 
humble eaves, cats lie in wait, and sometimes catch them 
on the wing. 

On the fifth of July, 1775, 1 again untiled part of a roof 
over the nest of a swift. The dam sat in the nest ; but so 
strongly was she affected by natural <rropy^ for her brood, 
which she supposed to be in danger, that, regardless of her 
own safety, she would not stir, but lay sullenly by them, 
permitting herself to be taken in hand. The squab young 
we brought down and placed on the grass-plot, where they 
tumbled about, and were as helpless as a new-born child. 
While we contemplated their naked bodies, their unwieldy 
disproportioned abdomina, and their heads, too heavy for 
their necks to support, we could not but wonder when we 
reflected that these shiftless beings in a little more than a 
fortnight would be able to dash through the air almost 
with the inconceivable swiftness of a meteor ; and perhaps, 
in their emigration must traverse vast continents and oceans 
as distant as the equator. So soon does Nature advance 
small birds to their >/Af/c/a, or state of perfection ; while the 
progressive growth of men and large quadrupeds is slow 
and tedious ! 

I am, etc. 




Selborne, Sept. 13, 1774. 


BY means of a straight cottage-chimney I had an 
opportunity this summer of remarking, at my leisure, 
how swallows ascend and descend through the shaft ; 
but my pleasure, in contemplating the address with 
which this feat was performed to a considerable depth in 
the chimney, was somewhat interrupted by apprehensions 
lest my eyes might undergo the same fate with those 
ofTob'it. 1 

Perhaps it may be some amusement to you to hear at 
what times the different species of hirundines arrived this 
spring in three very distant counties of this kingdom. 
With us the swallow was seen first on April the 4th, the 
swift on April the 24th, the bank-martin on April the I2th, 
and the house-martin not till April the 3Oth. At South 
Zele, Devonshire, swallows did not arrive till April the 
25th; swifts, in plenty, on May the ist ; and house- 
martins not till the middle of May. At Blackburn, in 
Lancashire, swifts were seen April the 28th, swallows 
April the 29th, house-martins May the ist. Do these 
different dates, in such distant districts prove anything for 
or against migration ? 

A farmer, near Weyhill, fallows his land with two teams 
of asses ; one of which works till noon, and the other in 
the afternoon. When these animals have done their work, 
they are penned, all night, like sheep, on the fallow. In 
the winter they are confined and foddered in a yard, and 
make plenty of dung. 

Linnaeus says that hawks " paciscuntur inducias cum 
avibus, quamdiu cuculus cuculat" : but it appears to me that, 
during that period, many little birds are taken and destroyed 

1 Tobit ii. 10. 


by birds of prey, as may be seen by their feathers left in 
lanes and under hedges. 

The missel-thrush is, while breeding, fierce and pugna- 
cious, driving such birds as approach its nest, with great 
fury, to a distance. The Welch call it pen y llwyn, the head 
or master of the coppice. He suffers no magpie, jay, or 
blackbird, to enter the garden where he haunts ; and is, for 
the time, a good guard to the new-sown legumens. In 
general he is very successful in the defence of his family : 
but once I observed in my garden, that several magpies 
came determined to storm the nest of a missel-thrush : 
the dams defended their mansion with great vigour, and 
fought resolutely pro aris & focis ; but numbers at last 
prevailed, they tore the nest to pieces, and swallowed the 
young alive. 

In the season of nidification the wildest birds are com- 
paratively tame. Thus the ring-dove breeds in my fields, 
though they are continually frequented; and the missel- 
thrush, though most shy and wild in the autumn and 
winter, builds in my garden close to a walk where people 
are passing all day long. 

Wall-fruit abounds with me this year : but my grapes, 
that used to be forward and good, are at present backward 
beyond all precedent : and this is not the worst of the 
story ; for the same ungenial weather, the same black cold 
solstice, has injured the more necessary fruits of the earth, 
and discoloured and blighted our wheat. The crop of 
hops promises to be very large. 

Frequent returns of deafness incommode me sadly, and 
half disqualify me for a naturalist ; for, when those fits are 
upon me, I lose all the pleasing notices and little intima- 
tions arising from rural sounds : and May is to me as 
silent and mute with respect to the notes of birds, etc. as 
August. My eyesight is, thank God, quick and good ; 
but with respect to the other sense, I am, at times, 
disabled : 

"And Wisdom at one entrance quite shut out." 



Selborne, June 8, 1775. 


ON September the 2ist, 1741, being then on a visit, and 
intent on field-diversions, I rose before daybreak : when I 
came into the enclosures, I found the stubbles and clover- 
grounds matted all over with a thick coat of cobweb, in 
the meshes of which a copious and heavy dew hung so 
plentifully that the whole face of the country seemed, as it 
were, covered with two or three setting-nets drawn one 
over another. When the dogs attempted to hunt, their 
eyes were so blinded and hoodwinked that they could not 
proceed, but were obliged to lie down and scrape the 
incumbrances from their faces with their fore-feet, so that, 
finding my sport interrupted, I returned home musing in 
my mind on the oddness of the occurrence. 

As the morning advanced the sun became bright and 
warm, and the day turned out one of those most lovely 
ones which no season but the autumn produces ; cloudless, 
calm, serene, and worthy of the South of France itself. 

About nine an appearance very unusual began to demand 
our attention, a shower of cobwebs falling from very 
elevated regions, and continuing, without any interruption, 
till the close of the day. These webs were not single 
filmy threads, floating in the air in all directions, but 
perfect flakes or rags ; some near an inch broad, and 
five or six long, which fell with a degree of velocity 
which showed they were considerably heavier than the 

On every side as the observer turned his eyes might he 
behold a continual succession of fresh flakes falling into 
his sight, and twinkling like stars as they turned their 
sides towards the sun. 

How far this wonderful shower extended would be 


difficult to say ; but we know that it reached Bradley, 
Selborne, and Alresford, three places which lie in a sort 
of a triangle, the shortest of whose sides is about eight 
miles in extent. 

At the second of those places there was a gentleman 
(for whose veracity and intelligent turn we have the 
greatest veneration) who observed it the moment he got 
abroad ; but concluded that, as soon as he came upon the 
hill above his house, where he took his morning rides, he 
should be higher than this meteor, which he imagined 
might have been blown, like Thistle-down, from the 
common above : but, to his great astonishment, when he 
rode to the most elevated part of the down, 300 feet 
above his fields, he found the webs in appearance still 
as much above him as before ; still descending into sight 
in a constant succession, and twinkling in the sun, so as to 
draw the attention of the most incurious. 

Neither before nor after was any such fall observed ; 
but on this day the flakes hung in the trees and hedges 
so thick, that a diligent person sent out might have 
gathered baskets full. 

The remark that I shall make on these cobweb-like 
appearances, called gossamer, is, that, strange and super- 
stitious as the notions about them were formerly, nobody 
in these days doubts but that they are the real production 
of small spiders, which swarm in the fields in fine weather 
in autumn, and have a power of shooting out webs from 
their tails so as to render themselves buoyant, and lighter 
than air. But why these apterous insects should that 
day take such a wonderful aerial excursion, and why 
their webs should at once become so gross and 
material as to be considerably more weighty than air, 
and to descend with precipitation, is a matter beyond 
my skill. If I might be allowed to hazard a supposition, 
I should imagine that those filmy threads, when first shot, 
might be entangled in the rising dew, and so drawn up, 
spiders and all, by a brisk evaporation into the region 
where clouds are formed : and if the spiders have a power 
of coiling and thickening their webs in the air, as Dr. 


Lister says they have, [see his letters to Mr. Ray] then, 
when they were become heavier than the air, they must 

Every day in fine weather, in autumn chiefly, do I 
see those spiders shooting out their webs and mounting 
aloft : they will go off from your finger if you will take 
them into your hand. Last summer one alighted on my 
book as I was reading in the parlour; and, running to 
the top of the page, and shooting out a web, took its 
departure from thence. But what I most wondered at 
was, that it went off with considerable velocity in a place 
where no air was stirring; and I am sure that I did 
not assist it with my breath. So that these little crawlers 
seem to have, while mounting, some loco-motive power 
without the use of wings, and to move in the air, faster 
than the air itself. 


Selborne, Aug. 15, 1775. 


THERE is a wonderful spirit of sociality in the brute 
creation, independent of sexual attachment : the con- 
gregating of gregarious birds in the winter is a remarkable 

Many horses, though quiet with company, will not stay 
one minute in a field by themselves : the strongest fences 
cannot restrain them. My neighbour's horse will not only 
not stay by himself abroad, but he will not bear to be 
left alone in a strange stable without discovering the 
utmost impatience, and endeavouring to break the rack 
and manger with his fore feet. He has been known 
to leap out at a stable-window, through which dung was 
thrown, after company ; and yet in other respects is 
remarkably quiet. Oxen and cows will not fatten by 


themselves ; but will neglect the finest pasture that is not 
recommended by society. It would be needless to instance 
in sheep, which constantly flock together. 

But this propensity seems not to be confined to animals 
of the same species; for we know a doe still alive, that 
was brought up from a little fawn with a dairy of cows ; 
with them it goes a-field, and with them it returns to the 
yard. The dogs of the house take no notice of this deer, 
being used to her ; but, if strange dogs come by, a chase 
ensues ; while the master smiles to see his favourite 
securely leading her pursuers over hedge, or gate, or 
stile, till she returns to the cows, who, with fierce lowings 
and menacing horns, drive the assailants quite out of the 

Even great disparity of kind and size does not always 
prevent social advances and mutual fellowship. For a 
very intelligent and observant person has assured me that, 
in the former part of his life, keeping but one horse, he 
happened also on a time to have but one solitary hen. 
These two incongruous animals spent much of their time 
together in a lonely orchard, where they saw no creature 
but each other. By degrees an apparent regard began to 
take place between these two sequestered individuals. The 
fowl would approach the quadruped with notes of com- 
placency, rubbing herself gently against his legs ; while the 
horse would look down with satisfaction, and move with 
the greatest caution and circumspection, lest he should 
trample on his diminutive companion. Thus, by mutual 
good offices, each seemed to console the vacant hours 
of the other : so that Milton, when he puts the following 
sentiment in the mouth of Adam, seems to be somewhat 
mistaken : 

" Much less can bird with beast, or fish with fowl, 
So well converse, nor with the ox the ape." 




Selborne, Oct. 2, 1775. 


WE have two gangs or hordes of gypsies which infest the 
south and west of England, and come round in their 
circuit two or three times in the year. One of these tribes 
calls itself by the noble name of Stanley, of which I have 
nothing particular to say ; but the other is distinguished by 
an appellative somewhat remarkable As far as their harsh 
gibberish can be understood, they seem to say that the 
name of their clan is Curleople ; now the termination of 
this word is apparently Grecian : and as Mezeray and the 
gravest historians all agree that these vagrants did certainly 
migrate from Egypt and the East two or three centuries 
ago, and so spread by degrees over Europe, may not this 
name, a little corrupted, be the very name they brought 
with them from the Levant? It would be matter of 
some curiosity, could one meet with an intelligent person 
among them, to inquire whether, in their jargon, they still 
retain any Greek words : the Greek radicals will appear in 
hand, foot, head, water, earth, etc. It is possible that 
amidst their cant and corrupted dialect many mutilated 
remains of their native language might still be discovered. 

With regard to those peculiar people, the gypsies, one 
thing is very remarkable, and especially as they came from 
warmer climates; and that is, that while other beggars 
lodge in barns, stables, and cow-houses, these sturdy 
savages seem to pride themselves in braving the severities 
of winter, and in living sub dio the whole year round. 
Last September was as wet a month as ever was known ; 
and yet during those deluges did a young gypsy-girl lie-in 
in the midst of one of our hop-gardens, on the cold 
ground, with nothing over her but a piece of blanket 
extended on a few hazel-rods bent hoop-fashion, and stuck 


into the earth at each end, in circumstances too trying for 
a cow in the same condition : yet within this garden there 
was a large hop-kiln, into the chambers of which she 
might have retired, had she thought shelter an object 
worthy her attention. 

Europe itself, it seems, cannot set bounds to the rovings 
of these vagabonds; for Mr. Bell, in his return from 
Peking, met a gang of these people on the confines of 
Tartary, who were endeavouring to penetrate those deserts 
and try their fortune in China. 1 

Gypsies are called in French, Bohemians ; in Italian and 
modern Greek, Zingani. 

I am, etc. 


Selborne, Nov. I, 1775. 


" Hie taedae pingues, hie plurimus ignis 

Semper, et assidua postes fuligine nigri." 

I SHALL make no apology for troubling you with the 
detail of a very simple piece of domestic oeconomy, being 
satisfied that you think nothing beneath your attention 
that tends to utility : the matter alluded to is the use 
of rushes instead of candles, which I am well aware pre- 
vails in many districts besides this ; but as I know there 
are countries also where it does not obtain, and as I 
have considered the subject with some degree of exactness, 
I shall proceed in my humble story, and leave you to 
judge of the expediency. 

The proper species of rush for this purpose seems to 

be thejuncus conglomerates, or common soft rush, which is 

to be found in most moist pastures, by the sides of streams, 

and under hedges. These rushes are in best condition in 

1 See Bell's Travels in China. 


the height of summer; but may be gathered, so as to 
serve the purpose well, quite on to autumn. It would be 
needless to add that the largest and longest are best. 
Decayed labourers, women, and children, make it their 
business to procure and prepare them. As soon as they 
are cut they must be flung into water, and kept there ; for 
otherwise they will dry and shrink, and the peel will 
not run. At first a person would find it no easy matter to 
divest a rush of its peel or rind, so as to leave one regular, 
narrow, even rib from top to bottom that may support the 
pith : but this, like other feats, soon becomes familiar even 
to children ; and we have seen an old woman, stone-blind, 
performing this business with great dispatch, and seldom 
failing to strip them with the nicest regularity. When 
these junci are thus far prepared, they must lie out on 
the grass to be bleached, and take the dew for some nights, 
and afterwards be dried in the sun. 

Some address is required in dipping these rushes in the 
scalding fat or grease ; but this knack also is to be attained 
by practice. The careful wife of an industrious Hamp- 
shire labourer obtains all her fat for nothing ; for she 
saves the scummings of her bacon-pot for this use ; and, 
if the grease abounds with salt, she causes the salt to 
precipitate to the bottom, by setting the scummings in 
a warm oven. Where hogs are not much in use, and 
especially by the sea-side, the coarser animal oils will come 
very cheap. A pound of common grease may be pro- 
cured for four pence ; and about six pounds of grease will 
dip a pound of rushes ; and one pound of rushes may 
be bought for one shilling : so that a pound of rushes, 
medicated and ready for use, will cost three shillings. If 
men that keep bees will mix a little wax with the grease, 
it will give it a consistency, and render it more cleanly, 
and make the rushes burn longer : mutton-suet would 
have the same effect. 

A good rush, which measured in length two feet four 
inches and an half, being minuted, burnt only three minutes 
short of an hour : and a rush still of greater length has 
been known to burn one hour and a quarter. 


These rushes give a good clear light. Watch-lights 
(coated with tallow), it is true, shed a dismal one, " dark- 
ness visible " ; but then the wicks of those have two ribs 
of the rind, or peel, to support the pith, while the wick of 
the dipped rush has but one. The two ribs are intended 
to impede the progress of the flame, and make the candle 

In a pound of dry rushes, avoirdupois, which I caused to 
be weighed and numbered, we found upwards of one 
thousand six hundred individuals. Now suppose each of 
these burns, one with another, only half an hour, then 
a poor man will purchase eight hundred hours of light, 
a time exceeding thirty-three entire days, for three shillings. 
According to this account each rush, before dipping, costs 
^V of a farthing, and T ^ afterwards. Thus a poor family 
will enjoy 5^ hours of comfortable light for a farthing. 
An experienced old housekeeper assures me that one 
pound and a half of rushes completely supplies his 
family the year round, since working people burn no 
candle in the long days, because they rise and go to bed 
by daylight. 

Little farmers use rushes much in the short days, both 
morning and evening in the dairy and kitchen ; but the 
very poor, who are always the worst oeconomists, and 
therefore must continue very poor, buy an halfpenny 
candle every evening, which, in their blowing open rooms, 
does not burn much more than two hours. Thus have they 
only two hours light for their money instead of eleven. 

While on the subject of rural oeconomy, it may not 
be improper to mention a pretty implement of house- 
wifery that we have seen no where else ; that is, little neat 
besoms which our foresters make from the stalk of the 
polytricum commune, or great golden maiden-hair, which 
they call silk-wood, and find plenty in the bogs. When 
this moss is well combed and dressed, and divested of 
its outer skin, it becomes of a beautiful bright chestnut 
colour ; and, being soft and pliant, is very proper for 
the. dusting of beds, curtains, carpets, hangings, etc. If 
these besoms were known to the brushmakers in town, it 


is probable they might come much in use for the purpose 
above-mentioned - 1 

I am, etc. 


Selborne, Dec. iz, 1775. 

WE had in this village more than twenty years ago an 
idiot-boy, whom I well remember, who, from a child, 
showed a strong propensity to bees ; they were his food, 
his amusement, his sole object. And as people of this 
cast have seldom more than one point in view, so this lad 
exerted all his few faculties on this one pursuit. In the 
winter he dosed away his time, within his father's house, 
by the fire-side, in a kind of torpid state, seldom departing 
from the chimney-corner ; but in the summer he was all 
alert, and in quest of his game in the fields, and on sunny 
banks. Honey-bees, humble-bees, and wasps, were his 
prey wherever he found them : he had no apprehensions 
from their stings, but would seize them nudis manibus, and 
at once disarm them of their weapons, and suck their 
bodies for the sake of their honey-bags. Sometimes he 
would fill his bosom between his shirt and his skin with a 
number of these captives ; and sometimes would confine 
them in bottles. He was a very merops apiaster, or bee- 
bird ; and very injurious to men that kept bees ; for he 
would slide into their bee-gardens, and, sitting down 
before the stools, would rap with his finger on the hives, 
and so take the bees as they came out. He has been 
known to overturn hives for the sake of honey, of which 
he was passionately fond. Where metheglin was making 
he would linger round the tubs and vessels, begging a 
draught of what he called bee-wine. As he ran about he 

1 A besom of this sort is to be seen in Sir Ashton Lever's Museum. 


used to make a humming noise with his lips, resembling 
the buzzing of bees. This lad was lean and sallow, and 
of a cadaverous complexion ; and, except in his favourite 
pursuit, in which he was wonderfully adroit, discovered no 
manner of understanding. Had his capacity been better, 
and directed to the same object, he had perhaps abated 
much of our wonder at the feats of a more modern 
exhibitor of bees ; and we may justly say of him now, 

" Thou, 

Had thy presiding star propitious shone, 
Should'st Wildman be ." 

When a tall youth he was removed from hence to a 
distant village, where he died, as I understand, before he 
arrived at manhood. 

I am, etc. 



Selborne, Jan. 8, 1776. 


IT is the hardest thing in the world to shake off super- 
stitious prejudices : they are sucked in as it were with 
our mother's milk ; and growing up with us at a time 
when they take the fastest hold and make the most lasting 
impressions, become so interwoven into our very constitu- 
tions, that the strongest good sense is required to dis- 
engage ourselves from them. No wonder therefore that 
the lower people retain them their whole lives through, 
since their minds are not invigorated by a liberal educa- 
tion, and therefore not enabled to make any efforts 
adequate to the occasion. 

Such a preamble seems to be necessary before we enter 
on the superstitions of this district, lest we should be sus- 
pected of exaggeration in a recital of practices too gross 
for this enlightened age. 


But the people of Tring, in Hertfordshire, would do 
well to remember, that no longer ago than the year 1751, 
and within twenty miles of the capital, they seized on two 
superannuated wretches, crazed with age, and overwhelmed 
with infirmities, on a suspicion of witchcraft; and, by 
trying experiments, drowned them in a horse-pond. 

In a farm-yard near the middle of this village stands, at 
this day, a row of pollard-ashes, which, by the seams and 
long cicatrices down their sides, manifestly show that, in 
former times, they have been cleft asunder. These trees, 
when young and flexible, were severed and held open by 
wedges, while ruptured children, stripped naked, were 
pushed through the apertures, under a persuasion that, 
by such a process, the poor babes would be cured of their 
infirmity. As soon as the operation was over, the tree, in 
the suffering part, was plastered with loam, and carefully 
swathed up. If the parts coalesced and soldered together, 
as usually fell out, where the feat was performed with any 
adroitness at all, the party was cured ; but, where the cleft 
continued to gape, the operation, it was supposed, would 
prove ineffectual. Having occasion to enlarge my garden 
not long since, I cut down two or three such trees, one of 
which did not grow together. 

We have several persons now living in the village, who, 
in *their childhood, were supposed to be healed by this 
superstitious ceremony, derived down perhaps from our 
Saxon ancestors, who practised it before their conversion 
to Christianity. 

At the south corner of the Plestor, or area, near the 
church, there stood, about twenty years ago, a very old 
grotesque hollow pollard-ash, which for ages had been 
looked on with no small veneration as a shrew-ash. Now 
a shrew-ash is an ash whose twigs or branches, when 
gently applied to the limbs of cattle, will immediately 
relieve the pains which a beast suffers from the running 
of a shrew-mouse over the part affected : for it is sup- 
posed that a shrew-mouse is of so baneful and deleterious 
a nature, that wherever it creeps over a beast, be it horse, 
cow, or sheep, the suffering animal is afflicted with cruel 


anguish, and threatened with the loss of the use of the 
limb. Against this accident, to which they were con- 
tinually liable, our provident fore-fathers, always kept a 
shrew-ash at hand, which, when once medicated, would 
maintain its virtue for ever. A shrew-ash was made 
thus : i Into the body of the tree a deep hole was bored 
with an auger, and a poor devoted shrew-mouse was 
thrust in alive, and plugged in, no doubt, with several 
quaint incantations long since forgotten. As the cere- 
monies necessary for such a consecration are no longer 
understood, all succession is at an end, and no such tree 
is known to subsist in the manor, or hundred. 
As to that on the Plestor, 

"The late Vicar stubb'd and burnt it," 

when he was way-warden, regardless of the remonstrances 
of the by-standers, who interceded in vain for its preserva- 
tion, urging its power and efficacy, and alleging that it 
had been 

" Religione patrum multos servata per annos." 

I am, etc. 


Selborne, Feb. 7, 1776. 


IN heavy fogs, on elevated situations especially, trees are 
perfect alembics : and no one that has not attended to 
such matters can imagine how much water one tree will 
distil in a night's time by condensing the vapour, which 
trickles down the twigs and boughs, so as to make the 
ground below quite in a float. In Newton-lane, in 
October 1775, on a misty day, a particular oak in leaf 
1 For a similar practice, see Plot's Staffordshire. 


dropped so fast that the cart-way stood in puddles and 
the ruts ran with water, though the ground in general 
was dusty. 

In some of our smaller islands in the West-Indies, if 
I mistake not, there are no springs or rivers ; but the 
people are supplied with that necessary element, water, 
merely by the dripping of some large tall trees, which, 
standing in the bosom of a mountain, keep their heads 
constantly enveloped with fogs and clouds, from which 
they dispense their kindly never-ceasing moisture ; and 
so render those districts habitable by condensation alone. 

Trees in leaf have such a vast proportion more of 
surface than those that are naked, that, in theory, their 
condensations should greatly exceed those that are stripped 
of their leaves ; but, as the former imbibe also a great 
quantity of moisture, it is difficult to say which drip most : 
but this I know, that deciduous trees that are entwined 
with much ivy seem to distil the greatest quantity. Ivy- 
leaves are smooth, and thick, and cold, and therefore 
condense very fast ; and besides ever-greens imbibe very 
little. These facts may furnish the intelligent with hints 
concerning what sorts of trees they should plant round 
small ponds that they would wish to be perennial ; and 
show them how advantageous some trees are in preference 
to others. 

Trees perspire profusely, condense largely, and check 
evaporation so much, that woods are always moist : no 
wonder therefore that they contribute much to pools and 

That trees are great promoters of lakes and rivers 
appears from a well known fact in North-America ; for, 
since the woods and forests have been grubbed and cleared, 
all bodies of water are much diminished ; so that some 
streams, that were very considerable a century ago, will 
not now drive a common mill. 1 Besides, most woodlands, 
forests, and chases, with us abound with pools and mor- 
asses ; no doubt for the reason given above. 

To a thinking mind few phenomena are more strange 

1 Vide Kalm's Travels to North-America. 


than the state of little ponds on the summits of chalk-hills, 
many of which are never dry in the most trying droughts 
of summer. On chalk-hills I say, because in many rocky 
and gravelly soils springs usually break out pretty high on 
the sides of elevated grounds and mountains ; but no 
person acquainted with chalky districts will allow that they 
ever saw springs in such a soil but in valleys and bottoms, 
since the waters of so pervious a stratum as chalk all lie 
on one dead level, as well-diggers have assured me again 
and again. 

Now we have many such little round ponds in this 
district ; and one in particular on our sheep-down, three 
hundred feet above my house ; which, though never above 
three feet deep in the middle, and not more than thirty 
feet in diameter, and containing perhaps not more than two 
or three hundred hogsheads of water, yet never is known to 
fail, though it affords drink for three hundred or four 
hundred sheep, and for at least twenty head of large cattle 
beside. This pond, it is true, is over-hung with two 
moderate beeches, that, doubtless, at times afford it much 
supply : but then we have others as small, that, without 
the aid of trees, and in spite of evaporation from sun and 
wind, and perpetual consumption by cattle, yet constantly 
maintain a moderate share of water, without overflowing in 
the wettest seasons, as they would do if supplied by springs. 
By my journal of May 1775, it appears that "the 
small and even considerable ponds in the vales are now 
dried up, while the small ponds on the very tops of hills 
are but little affected." Can this difference be accounted 
for from evaporation alone, which certainly is more preva- 
lent in bottoms ? or rather have not those elevated pools 
some unnoticed recruits, which in the night time counter- 
balance the waste of the day ; without which the cattle 
alone must soon exhaust them ? And here it will be 
necessary to enter more minutely into the cause. Dr. 
Hales, in his Vegetable Statics, advances, from experiment, 
that " the moister the earth is the more dew falls on it in 
a night : and more than a double quantity of dew falls 
on a surface of water than there does on an equal surface 



of moist earth." Hence we see that water, by its coolness, 
is enabled to assimilate to itself a large quantity of moisture 
nightly by condensation ; and that the air, when loaded 
with fogs and vapours, and even with copious dews, can 
alone advance a considerable and never-failing resource. 
Persons that are much abroad, and travel early and late ; 
such as shepherds, fishermen, etc. can tell what prodigious 
fogs prevail in the night on elevated downs, even in the 
hottest parts of summer ; and how much the surfaces of 
things are drenched by those swimming vapours, though, 
to the senses, all the while, little moisture seems to fall. 

I am, etc. 



Selborne, April 3, 1776. 

MONSIEUR HERISSANT, a French anatomist, seems per- 
suaded that he has discovered the reason why cuckoos do 
not hatch their own eggs ; the impediment, he supposes, 
arises from the internal structure of their parts, which 
incapacitates them for incubation. According to this 
gentleman, the crop or craw of a cuckoo does not lie 
before the sternum at the bottom of the neck, as in the 
gallinae, columbae, etc. but immediately behind it, on and 
over the bowels, so as to make a large protuberance in the 
belly. 1 

Induced by this assertion, we procured a cuckoo ; and, 
cutting open the breast-bone, and exposing the intestines 
to sight, found the crop lying as mentioned above. This 
stomach was large and round, and stuffed hard like a pin- 
cushion with food, which, upon nice examination, we found 
to consist of various insects ; such as small scarabs, 
spiders, and dragon-flies ; the last of which we have seen 

1 Histoire de 1'Academie Royale, 1752. 


cuckoos catching on the wing as they were just emerging 
out of the aurelia state. Among this farrago also were to 
be seen maggots, and many seeds, which belonged either 
to gooseberries, currants, cranberries, or some such fruit ; 
so that these birds apparently subsist on insects and fruits : 
nor was there the least appearance of bones, feathers, or 
fur to support the idle notion of their being birds of 

The sternum in this bird seemed to us to be remarkably 
short, between which and the anus lay the crop, or craw, 
and immediately behind that the bowels against the back- 

It must be allowed as this anatomist observes, that the 
crop placed just upon the bowels must, especially when 
full, be in a very uneasy situation during the business of 
incubation ; yet the test will be to examine whether birds 
that are actually known to sit for certain are not formed 
in a similar manner. This inquiry I proposed to myself 
to make with a fern-owl, or goatsucker, as soon as oppor- 
tunity offered : because, if their formation proves the same, 
the reason for incapacity in the cuckoo will be allowed to 
have been taken up somewhat hastily. 

Not long after a fern-owl was procured, which, from its 
habit and shape, we suspected might resemble the cuckoo 
in its internal construction. Nor were our suspicions ill- 
grounded ; for, upon the dissection, the crop, or craw, 
also lay behind the sternum, immediately on the viscera, 
between them and the skin of the belly. It was bulky, 
and stuffed hard with large phalaenae, moths of several 
sorts, and their eggs, which no doubt had been forced out 
of those insects by the action of swallowing. 

Now as it appears that this bird, which is so well known 
to practise incubation, is formed in a similar manner with 
cuckoos, Monsieur Herissant's conjecture, that cuckoos 
are incapable of incubation from the disposition of their 
intestines, seems to fall to the ground : and we are still at 
a loss for the cause of that strange and singular peculiarity 
in the instance of the cuculus canorus. 

We found the case to be the same with the ring-tail 


hawk, in respect to formation ; and, as far as I can recol- 
lect, with the swift ; and probably it is so with many more 
sorts of birds that are not granivorous. 

I am, etc. 



Selborne, April 29, 1776. 


ON August the 4th, 1775, we surprised a large viper, 
which seemed very heavy and bloated, as it lay in the 
grass basking in the sun. When we came to cut it up, 
we found that the abdomen was crowded with young, 
fifteen in number; the shortest of which measured full 
seven inches, and were about the size of full-grown earth- 
worms. This little fry issued into the world with true 
viper-spirit about them, showing great alertness as soon 
as disengaged from the belly of the dam : they twisted 
and wriggled about, and set themselves up, and gaped 
very wide when touched with a stick, showing manifest 
tokens of menace and defiance, though as yet they had no 
manner of fangs that we could find, even with the help of 
our glasses. 

To a thinking mind nothing is more wonderful than 
that early instinct which impresses young animals with the 
notion of the situation of their natural weapons, and of 
using them properly in their own defence, even before 
those weapons subsist or are formed. Thus a young cock 
will spar at his adversary before his spurs are grown ; and 
a calf or a lamb will push with their heads before their 
horns are sprouted. In the same manner did these young 
adders attempt to bite before their fangs were in being. 
The dam however was furnished with very formidable 
ones, which we lifted up (for they fold down when not 
used) and cut them off with the point of our scissors. 


There was little room to suppose that this brood had 
ever been in the open air before ; and that they were taken 
in for refuge, at the mouth of the dam, when she perceived 
that danger was approaching ; because then probably we 
should have found them somewhere in the neck, and not 
in the abdomen. 


CASTRATION has a strange effect : it emasculates both man, 
beast, and bird, and brings them to a near resemblance of 
the other sex. Thus eunuchs have smooth unmuscular 
arms, thighs and legs ; and broad hips, and beardless chins, 
and squeaking voices. Celt-stags and bucks have hornless 
heads, like hinds and does. Thus wethers have small 
horns, like ewes; and oxen large bent horns, and hoarse 
voices when they low, like cows: for bulls have short 
straight horns ; and though they mutter and grumble in a 
deep tremendous tone, yet they low in a shrill high key. 
Capons have small combs and gills, and look pallid about 
the head, like pullets ; they also walk without any parade, 
and hover chickens like hens. Barrow-hogs have also small 
tusks like sows. 

Thus far it is plain that the deprivation of masculine 
vigour puts a stop to the growth of those parts or appen- 
dages that are looked upon as its insignia. But the 
ingenious Mr. Lisle, in his book on husbandry, carries it 
much farther; for he says that the loss of those insignia 
alone has sometimes a strange effect on the ability itself: 
he had a boar so fierce and venereous, that, to prevent 
mischief, orders were given for his tusks to be broken 
off. No sooner had the beast suffered this injury than 
his powers forsook him, and he neglected those females 
to whom before he was passionately attached, and from 
whom no fences could restrain him, 



THE natural term of an hog's life is little known, and the 
reason is plain because it is neither profitable nor con- 
venient to keep that turbulent animal to the full extent of 
its time : however, my neighbour, a man of substance, who 
had no occasion to study every little advantage to a nicety, 
kept an half bred Bantam-sow, who was as thick as she 
was long, and whose belly swept on the ground, till she was 
advanced to her seventeenth year ; at which period she 
showed some tokens of age by the decay of her teeth and 
the decline of her fertility. 

For about ten years this prolific mother produced two 
litters in the year of about ten at a time, and once above 
twenty at a litter; but, as there were near double the 
number of pigs to that of teats many died. From long 
experience in the world this female was grown very saga- 
cious and artful : when she found occasion to converse 
with a boar she used to open all the intervening gates, and 
march, by herself, up to a distant farm where one was kept ; 
and when her purpose was served would return by the 
same means. At the age of about fifteen her litters began 
to be reduced to four or five ; and such a litter she exhibited 
when in her fatting-pen. She proved, when fat, good bacon, 
juicy, and tender ; the rind, or sward, was remarkably thin. 
At a moderate computation she was allowed to have been 
the fruitful parent of three hundred pigs : a prodigious 
instance of fecundity in so large a quadruped ! She was 
killed in spring 1775. 

I am, etc. 



Selborne, May 9, 1 776. 


" admorunt ubera tigres." 

WE have remarked in a former letter how much incon- 
gruous animals, in a lonely state, may be attached to each 
other from a spirit of sociality ; in this it may not be amiss 
to recount a different motive which has been known to 
create as strange a fondness. 

My friend had a little helpless leveret brought to him, 
which the servants fed with milk in a spoon, and about the 
same time his cat kittened and the young were dispatched 
and buried. The hare was soon lost, and supposed to be 
gone the way of most fondlings, to be killed by some dog 
or cat. However, in about a fortnight, as the master was 
sitting in his garden in the dusk of the evening, he observed 
his cat, with tail erect, trotting towards him, and calling 
with little short inward notes of complacency, such as they 
use towards their kittens, and something gamboling after, 
which proved to be the leveret that the cat had supported 
with her milk, and continued to support with great affection. 

Thus was a graminivorous animal nurtured by a carni- 
vorous and predaceous one ! 

Why so cruel and sanguinary a beast as a cat, of the 
ferocious genus of Fetes, the murium feo, as Linnaeus calls it, 
should be affected with any tenderness towards an animal 
which is its natural prey, is not so easy to determine. 

This strange affection probably was occasioned by that 
desiderium, those tender maternal feelings, which the loss 
of her kittens had awakened in her breast ; and by the com- 
placency and ease she derived to herself from the procuring 
her teats to be drawn, which were too much distended with 
milk, till, from habit, she became as much delighted with 
this foundling as if it had been her real offspring. 


This incident is no bad solution of that strange circum- 
stance which grave historians as well as the poets assert, of 
exposed children being sometimes nutured by female wild 
beasts that probably had lost their young. For it is not 
one whit more marvellous that Romulus and Remus, in 
their infant state, should be nursed by a she-wolf, than 
that a poor little sucking leveret should be fostered and 
cherished by a bloody grimalkin. 

" viridi foetam Mavortis in antro 

Procubuisse lupam : geminos huic ubera circum 
Ludere pendentes pueros, et lambere matrem 
Impavidos : illam tereti cervice reflexam 
Mulcere alternos, et corpora fingere lingua." 



Selborne, May 20, 1770. 


LANDS that are subject to frequent inundations are always 
poor ; and probably the reason may be because the worms 
are drowned. The most insignificant insects and reptiles 
are of much more consequence, and have much more 
influence in the oeconomy of Nature, than the incurious 
are aware of; and are mighty in their effect, from their 
minuteness, which renders them less an object of attention ; 
and from their numbers and fecundity. Earth-worms, 
though in appearance a small and despicable link in the 
chain of Nature, yet, if lost, would make a lamentable 
chasm. For, to say nothing of half the birds, and some 
quadrupeds which are almost entirely supported by them, 
worms seem to be the great promoters of vegetation, which 
would proceed but lamely without them, by boring, per- 
forating, and loosening the soil, and rendering it pervious 
to rains and the fibres of plants, by drawing straws and 


stalks of leaves and twigs into it ; and, most of all, by 
throwing up such infinite numbers of lumps of earth called 
worm-casts, which, being their excrement, is a fine manure 
for grain and grass. Worms probably provide new soil 
for hills and slopes where the rain washes the earth away ; 
and they affect slopes, probably to avoid being flooded. 
Gardeners and farmers express their detestation of worms ; 
the former because they render their walks unsightly, and 
make them much work : and the latter because, as they 
think, worms eat their green corn. But these men would 
find that the earth without worms would soon become cold, 
hard-bound, and void of fermentation ; and consequently 
sterile : and besides, in favour of worms, it should be hinted 
that green corn, plants, and flowers, are not so much 
injured by them as by many species of coleoptera (scarabs), 
and tipulae, (long-legs) in their larva, or grub-state ; and 
by unnoticed myriads of small shell-less snails, called slugs, 
which silently and imperceptibly make amazing havoc in 
the field and garden. 1 

These hints we think proper to throw out in order to 
set the inquisitive and discerning to work. 

A good monography of worms would afford much 
entertainment and information at the same time, and 
would open a large and new field in natural history. 
Worms work most in the spring ; but by no means lie 
torpid in the dead months ; are out every mild night in 
the winter, as any person may be convinced that will take 
the pains to examine his grass-plots with a candle ; are 
hermaphrodites, and much addicted to venery, and conse- 
quently very prolific. 

I am, etc. 

1 Farmer Young, of Norton-farm, says that this spring (1777) about 
four acres of his wheat in one field was entirely destroyed by slugs, which 
swarmed on the blades of corn, and devoured it as fast as it sprang. 




Selborne, Nov. 22, 1777. 


You cannot but remember that the twenty-sixth and 
twenty-seventh of last March were very hot days ; so 
sultry that every body complained and were restless under 
those sensations to which they had not been reconciled by 
gradual approaches. 

This sudden summer-like heat was attended by many 
summer coincidences; for on those two days the ther- 
mometer rose to sixty-six in the shade; many species of 
insects revived and came forth ; some bees swarmed in this 
neighbourhood; the old tortoise, near Lewes in Sussex, 
awakened and came forth out of its dormitory ; and, what 
is most to my present purpose, many house-swallows 
appeared and were very alert in many places, and particu- 
larly at Cobham, in Surrey. 

But as that short warm period was succeeded as well as 
preceded by harsh severe weather, with frequent frosts and 
ice, and cutting winds, the insects withdrew, the tortoise 
retired again into the ground, and the swallows were seen 
no more until the tenth of April, when, the rigour of the 
spring abating, a softer season began to prevail. 

Again ; it appears by my journals for many years past, 
that house-martins retire, to a bird, about the beginning of 
October ; so that a person not very observant of such 
matters would conclude that they had taken their last fare- 
well : but then it may be seen in my diaries also that con- 
siderable flocks have discovered themselves again in the first 
week of November, and often on the fourth day of that month 
only for one day ; and that not as if they were in actual 
migration, but playing about at their leisure and feeding 
calmly, as if no enterprise of moment at all agitated their 
spirits. And this was the case in the beginning of this 


very month ; for, on the fourth of November, more than 
twenty house-martins, which, in appearance, had all departed 
about the seventh of October, were seen again, for that one 
morning only, sporting between my fields and the Hanger, 
and feasting on insects which swarmed in that sheltered 
district. The preceding day was wet and blustering, but 
the fourth was dark and mild, and soft, the wind at south- 
west, and the thermometer at 58'^ ; a pitch not common 
at that season of the year. Moreover, it may not be amiss 
to add in this place, that whenever the thermometer is 
above 50 the bat comes flitting out in every autumnal and 
winter month. 

From all these circumstances laid together, it is obvious 
that torpid insects, reptiles, and quadrupeds, are awakened 
from their profoundest slumbers by a little untimely 
warmth ; and therefore that nothing so much promotes 
this death-like stupor as a defect of heat. And farther, it 
is reasonable to suppose that two whole species, or at least 
many individuals of those two species, of British hirundines, 
do never leave this island at all, but partake of the same 
benumbed state : for we cannot suppose that, after a 
month's absence, house-martins can return from southern 
regions to appear for one morning in November, or that 
house-swallows should leave the districts of Africa to 
enjoy, in March, the transient summer of a couple of 

I am, etc. 



Selborne, Jan. 8, 1778. 


THERE was in this village several years ago a miserable 
pauper, who, from his birth, was afflicted with a leprosy, 
as far as we are aware of a singular kind, since it affected 
only the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet. 


This scaly eruption usually broke out twice in the year, 
at the spring and fall ; and, by peeling away, left the skin 
so thin and tender that neither his hands or feet were 
able to perform their functions ; so that the poor object 
was half his time on crutches, incapable of employ, and 
languishing in a tiresome state of indolence and inactivity. 
His habit was lean, lank, and cadaverous. In this sad 
plight he dragged on a miserable existence, a burden 
to himself and his parish, which was obliged to support 
him till he was relieved by death at more than thirty years 
of age. 

The good women, who love to account for every defect 
in children by the doctrine of longing, said that his mother 
felt a violent propensity for oysters, which she was unable 
to gratify ; and that the black rough scurf on his hands 
and feet were the shells of that fish. We knew his 
parents, neither of which were lepers ; his father in 
particular lived to be far advanced in years. 

In all ages the leprosy has made dreadful havoc 
among mankind. The Israelites seem to have been 
greatly afflicted with it from the most remote times ; as 
appears from the peculiar and repeated injunctions given 
them in the Levitical law. 1 Nor was the rancour of this 
foul disorder much abated in the last period of their 
commonwealth, as may be seen in many passages of the 
New Testament. 

Some centuries ago this horrible distemper prevailed all 
Europe over ; and our forefathers were by no means 
exempt, as appears by the large provision made for objects 
labouring under this calamity. There was an hospital for 
female lepers in the diocese of Lincoln, a noble one near 
Durham, three in London and Southwark, and perhaps 
many more in or near our great towns and cities. More- 
over, some crowned heads, and other wealthy and charit- 
able personages, bequeathed large legacies to such poor 
people as languished under this hopeless infirmity. 

It must therefore, in these days, be, to an humane and 
thinking person, a matter of equal wonder and satisfaction, 
1 See Leviticus, chap. xiii. and xiv. 


when he contemplates how nearly this pest is eradicated, 
and observes that a leper now is a rare sight. He will, 
moreover, when engaged in such a train of thought, 
naturally enquire for the reason. This happy change 
perhaps may have originated and been continued from 
the much smaller quantity of salted meat and fish now 
eaten in these kingdoms ; from the use of linen next the 
skin ; from the plenty of better bread ; and from the 
profusion of fruits, roots, legumes, and greens, so common 
in every family. Three or four centuries ago, before 
there were any enclosures, sown-grasses, field-turnips, or 
field-carrots, or hay, all the cattle which had grown fat in 
summer, and were not killed for winter-use, were turned 
out soon after Michaelmas to shift as they could through 
the dead months ; so that no fresh meat could be had in 
winter or spring. Hence the marvellous account of the 
vast stores of salted flesh found in the larder of the eldest 
Spencer l in the days of Edward the Second, even so late 
in the spring as the third of May. It was from maga- 
zines like these that the turbulent barons supported in 
idleness their riotous swarms of retainers ready for any 
disorder or mischief. But agriculture is now arrived at 
such a pitch of perfection, that our best and fattest meats 
are killed in the winter ; and no man need eat salted flesh, 
unless he prefers it, that has money to buy fresh. 

One cause of this distemper might be, no doubt, the 
quantity of wretched fresh and salt fish consumed by the 
commonalty at all seasons as well as in Lent; which our 
poor now would hardly be persuaded to touch. 

The use of linen changes, shirts or shifts, in the room 
of sordid and filthy woollen, long worn next the skin, is a 
matter of neatness comparatively modern ; but must prove 
a great means of preventing cutaneous ails. At this very 
time woollen instead of linen prevails among the poorer 
Welch, who are subject to foul eruptions. 

The plenty of good wheaten bread that now is found 
among all ranks of people in the south, instead of that 

1 Viz. Six hundred bacons, eighty carcasses of beef, and six hundred 


miserable sort which used in old days to be made of barley 
or beans, may contribute not a little to the sweetening 
their blood and correcting their juices ; for the inhabitants 
of mountainous districts, to this day, are still liable to the 
itch and other cutaneous disorders, from a wretchedness 
and poverty of diet. 

As to the produce of a garden, every middle-aged 
person of observation may perceive, within his own memory, 
both in town and country, how vastly the consumption of 
vegetables is increased. Green-stalls in cities now support 
multitudes in a comfortable state, while gardeners get 
fortunes. Kvery decent labourer also has his garden, 
which is half his support, as well as his delight ; and 
common farmers provide plenty of beans, peas, and 
greens, for their hinds to eat with their bacon ; and 
those few that do not are despised for their sordid parsi- 
mony, and looked upon as regardless of the welfare of 
their dependants. Potatoes have prevailed in this little 
district, by means of premiums, within these twenty years 
only ; and are much esteemed here now by the poor, who 
would scarce have ventured to taste them in the last reign. 

Our Saxon ancestors certainly had some sort of cabbage, 
because they call the month of February sprout-cale ; but, 
long after their days, the cultivation of gardens was little 
attended to. The religious, being men of leisure, and 
keeping up a constant correspondence with Italy, were the 
first people among us that had gardens and fruit-trees in 
any perfection, within the walls of their abbeys 1 and 
priories. The barons neglected every pursuit that did not 
lead to war or tend to the pleasure of the chase. 

It was not till gentlemen took up the study of horti- 
culture themselves that the knowledge of gardening made 
such hasty advances. Lord Cobham, Lord Ila, and Mr. 
Waller of Beaconsfield, were some of the first people of 

1 " In monasteries the lamp of knowledge continued to burn, however 
dimly. In them men of business were formed for the state : the art of 
writing was cultivated by the monks; they were the only proficients in 
mechanics, gardening, and architecture." See Dalrymple's Annals of 


rank that promoted the elegant science of ornamenting 
without despising the superintendence of the kitchen 
quarters and fruit walls. 

A remark made by the excellent Mr. Ray in his Tour 
of Europe at once surprises us, and corroborates what has 
been advanced above ; for we find him observing, so late 
as his days, that " the Italians use several herbs for sallets, 
which are not yet or have not been but lately used in 
England, viz. selleri (celery), which is nothing else but the 
sweet smallage ; the young shoots whereof, with a little of 
the head of the root cut off, they eat raw with oil and 
pepper." And further he adds " curled endive blanched is 
much used beyond seas ; and, for a raw sallet, seemed to 
excel lettuce itself." Now this journey was undertaken 
no longer ago than in the year 1663. 

I am, etc. 


"Forte puer, comitum seductus ab agmine fido, 
Dixerat, ecquis adest ? et, adest, responderat echo. 
Hie stupet; utque aciem partes divisit in omnes; 
Voce, veni, clamat magna. Vocat ilia vocantem." 

Selborne, Feb. 12, 1778. 


IN a district so diversified as this, so full of hollow vales, 
and hanging woods, it is no wonder that echoes should 
abound. Many we have discovered that return the cry of 
a pack of dogs, the notes of a hunting-horn, a tunable ring 
of bells, or the melody of birds, very agreeably : but we 
were still at a loss for a polysyllabical, articulate echo, till 
a young gentleman, who had parted from his company in 
a summer evening walk, and was calling after them, 
stumbled upon a very curious one in a spot where it might 
least be expected. At first he was much surprised, and 


could not be persuaded but that he was mocked by some 
boy ; but, repeating his trials in several languages, and 
finding his respondent to be a very adroit polyglot, he then 
discerned the deception. 

This echo in an evening, before rural noises cease, 
would repeat ten syllables most articulately and distinctly, 
especially if quick dactyls were chosen. The last syllables of 

" Tityre, tu patulae recubans " 

were as audibly and intelligibly returned as the first : and 
there is no doubt, could trial have been made, but that at 
midnight, when the air is very elastic, and a dead stillness 
prevails, one or two syllables more might have been 
obtained ; but the distance rendered so late an experiment 
very inconvenient. 

Quick dactyls, we observed, succeeded best ; for when 
we came to try its powers in slow, heavy, embarrassed 
spondees of the same number of syllables, 

" Monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens " 

we could perceive a return but of four or five. 

All echoes have some one place to which they are 
returned stronger and more distinct than to any other ; 
and that is always the place that lies at right angles with 
the object of repercussion, and is not too near, nor too far 
off. Buildings, or naked rocks, re-echo much more arti- 
culately than hanging wood or vales ; because in the latter 
the voice is as it were entangled, and embarrassed in the 
covert, and weakened in the rebound. 

The true object of this echo, as we found by various 
experiments, is the stone-built, tiled hop-kiln in Galley- 
Lane, which measures in front 40 feet, and from the 
ground to the eaves 1 2 feet. The true centrum phonicum, 
or just distance, is one particular spot in the King's-field, 
in the path to Nore-hill, on the very brink of the steep 
balk above the hollow cart way. In this case there is no 
choice of distance; but the path, by mere contingency, 
happens to be the lucky, the identical spot, because the 
ground rises or falls so immediately, if the speaker either 


retires or advances, that his mouth would at once be above 
or below the object. 

We measured this polysyllabical echo with great exact- 
ness, and found the distance to fall very short of Dr. Plot's 
rule for distinct articulation : for the Doctor, in his history 
of Oxfordshire, allows 120 feet for the return of each 
syllable distinctly : hence this echo, which gives ten distinct 
syllables, ought to measure 400 yards, or 120 feet to each 
syllable; whereas our distance is only 258 yards, or near 
75 feet, to each syllable. Thus our measure falls short of 
the Doctor's, as five to eight : but then it must be 
acknowledged that this candid philosopher was convinced 
afterwards, that some latitude must be admitted of in the 
distance of echoes according to time and place. 

When experiments of this sort are making, it should 
always be remembered that weather and the time of day 
have a vast influence on an echo ; for a dull, heavy, moist 
air deadens and clogs the sound ; and hot sunshine renders 
the air thin and weak, and deprives it of all its springiness ; 
and a ruffling wind quite defeats the whole. In a still, 
clear, dewy evening the air is most elastic ; and perhaps 
the later the hour the more so. 

Echo has always been so amusing to the imagination, 
that the poets have personified her ; and in their hands she 
has been the occasion of many a beautiful fiction. Nor 
need the gravest man be ashamed to appear taken with 
such a phaenomenon, since it may become the subject of 
philosophical or mathematical inquiries. 

One should have imagined that echoes, if not entertain- 
ing, must at least have been harmless and inoffensive ; yet 
Virgil advances a strange notion, that they are injurious to 
bees. After enumerating some probable and reasonable 
annoyances, such as prudent owners would wish far removed 
from their bee-gardens, he adds 

" aut ubi concava pulsu 

Saxa sonant, vocisque offensa resultat imago." 

This wild and fanciful assertion will hardly be admitted 
by the philosophers of these days; especially as they all 


now seem agreed that insects are not furnished with any 
organs of hearing at all. But if it should be urged, that 
though they cannot hear yet perhaps they may feel the 
repercussion of sounds, I grant it is possible they may. 
Yet that these impressions are distasteful or hurtful, I 
deny, because bees, in good summers, thrive well in my 
outlet, where the echoes are very strong : for this village 
is another Anathoth, a place of responses or echoes. 
Besides, it does not appear from experiment that bees are 
in any way capable of being affected by sounds : for I have 
often tried my own with a large speaking-trumpet held 
close to their hives, and with such an exertion of voice as 
would have hailed a ship at the distance of a mile, and 
still these insects pursued their various employments un- 
disturbed, and without showing the least sensibility or 

Some time since its discovery this echo is become totally 
silent, though the object, or hop-kiln, remains : nor is 
there any mystery in this defect ; for the field between is 
planted as an hop-garden, and the voice of the speaker is 
totally absorbed and lost among the poles and entangled 
foliage of the hops. And when the poles are removed 
in autumn the disappointment is the same ; because 
a tall quick-set hedge, nurtured up for the purpose of 
"shelter to the hop ground, entirely interrupts the impulse 
and repercussion of the voice : so that till those 
obstructions are removed no more of its garrulity can be 

Should any gentleman of fortune think an echo in his 
park or outlet a pleasing incident, he might build one at 
little or no expense. For whenever he had occasion for a 
new barn, stable, dog-kennel, or the like structure, it would 
be only needful to erect this building on the gentle declivity 
of an hill, with a like rising opposite to it, at a few hun- 
dred yards distance ; and perhaps success might be the easier 
ensured could some canal, lake, or stream, intervene. From 
a seat at the centrum phonicum he and his friends might 
amuse themselves sometimes of an evening with the prattle 
of this loquacious nymph ; of whose complacency and 


decent reserve more may be said than can with truth of 
every individual of her sex ; since she is 

" quae nee reticere loquenti, 

Nee prior ipsa loqui didicit resonabilis echo." 

I am, etc. 

P.S. The classic reader will, I trust, pardon the following 
lovely quotation, so finely describing echoes, and so poeti- 
cally accounting for their causes from popular superstition : 

"Quae bene quom videas, rationem reddere possis 
Tute tibi atque aliis, quo pacto per loca sola 
Saxa pareis formas verborum ex ordine reddant, 
Palanteis comites quom mcnteis inter opacos 
Quaerimus, et magna disperses voce ciemus. 
Sex etiam, aut septem loca vidi reddere voces 
Unam quom jaceres : ita colles collibus ipsis 
Verba repulsantes iterabant dicta referre. 
Haec loca capripedes Satyros, Nymphasque tenere 
Finitimi fingunt, et Faunos esse loquuntur; 
Quorum noctivago strepitu, ludoque jocanti 
Adfirmant volgo taciturna silentia rumpi, 
Chordarumque sonos fieri, dulceisque querelas, 
Tibia quas fundit digitis pulsata canentum : 
Et genus agricolum late sentiscere, quom Pan 
Pinea semiferi capitis velamina quassans, 
Unco saepe labro calamos percurrit hianteis, 
Fistula silvestrem ne cesset fundere musam." 

LUCRETIUS, Lib. iv. 1. 576. 



Selborne, May 13, 1778. 


AMONG the many singularities attending those amusing 
birds the swifts, I am now confirmed in the opinion that 
we have every year the same number of pairs invariably ; 
at least the result of my inquiry has been exactly the 


same for a long time past. The swallows and martins are 
so numerous, and so widely distributed over the village, 
that it is hardly possible to recount them ; while the swifts, 
though they do not all build in the church, yet so fre- 
quently haunt it, and play and rendezvous round it, that 
they are easily enumerated. The number that I con- 
stantly find are eight pairs ; about half of which reside 
in the church, and the rest build in some of the lowest 
and meanest thatched cottages. Now as these eight pairs, 
allowance being made for accidents, breed yearly eight 
pairs more, what becomes annually of this increase ; and 
what determines every spring which pairs shall visit us, 
and reoccupy their ancient haunts ? 

Ever since I have attended to the subject of orni- 
thology, I have always supposed that that sudden reverse 
of afFection, that strange avr to-ropy}], which immediately 
succeeds in the feathered kind to the most passionate 
fondness, is the occasion of an equal dispersion of birds 
over the face of the earth. Without this provision one 
favourite district would be crowded with inhabitants, while 
others would be destitute and forsaken. But the parent 
birds seem to maintain a jealous superiority, and to oblige 
the young to seek for new abodes : and the rivalry of 
the males, in many kinds, prevents their crowding the one 
on the other. Whether the swallows and house-martins 
return in the same exact number annually is not easy 
to say, for reasons given above : but it is apparent, as 
I have remarked before in my Monographies, that the 
numbers returning bear no manner of proportion to the 
numbers retiring. 




Selborne, June 2, 1778. 


THE standing objection to botany has always been, that it 
is a pursuit that amuses the fancy and exercises the 
memory, without improving the mind or advancing any real 
knowledge : and where the science is carried no farther 
than a mere systematic classification, the charge is but 
too true. But the botanist that is desirous of wiping 
off this aspersion should be by no means content with 
a list of names ; he should study plants philosophically, 
should investigate the laws of vegetation, should examine 
the powers and virtues of efficacious herbs, should promote 
their cultivation ; and graft the gardener, the planter, and 
the husbandman, on the phytologist. Not that system is 
by any means to be thrown aside ; without system the 
field of Nature would be a pathless wilderness : but system 
should be subservient to, not the main object of, pursuit. 

Vegetation is highly worthy of our attention ; and in 
itself is of the utmost consequence to mankind, and 
productive of many of the greatest comforts and elegancies 
of life. To plants we owe timber, bread, beer, honey, 
wine, oil, linen, cotton, etc. what not only strengthens our 
hearts, and exhilarates our spirits, but what secures from 
inclemencies of weather and adorns our persons. Man, in 
his true state of nature, seems to be subsisted by spon- 
taneous vegetation : in middle climes, where grasses prevail, 
he mixes some animal food with the produce of the field 
and garden : and it is towards the polar extremes only that, 
like his kindred bears and wolves, he gorges himself with 
flesh alone, and is driven, to what hunger has never been 
known to compel the very beasts, to prey on his own 
species. 1 

1 See the late Voyages to the South-seas. 


The productions of vegetation have had a vast influence 
on the commerce of nations, and have been the great 
promoters of navigation, as may be seen in the articles 
of sugar, tea, tobacco, opium, ginseng, betel, paper, etc. 
As every climate has its peculiar produce, our natural 
wants bring on a mutual intercourse ; so that by means of 
trade each distant part is supplied with the growth of every 
latitude. But, without the knowledge of plants and their 
culture, we must have been content with our hips and 
haws, without enjoying the delicate fruits of India and the 
salutiferous drugs of Peru. 

Instead of examining the minute distinctions of every 
various species of each obscure genus, the botanist should 
endeavour to make himself acquainted with those that are 
useful. You shall see a man readily ascertain every herb 
of the field, yet hardly know wheat from barley, or at 
least one sort of wheat or barley from another. 

But of all sorts of vegetation the grasses seem to be 
most neglected ; neither the farmer nor the grazier seem to 
distinguish the annual from the perennial, the hardy from 
the tender, nor the succulent and nutritive from the dry 
and juiceless. 

The study of grasses would be of great consequence 
to a northerly, and grazing kingdom. The botanist that 
could- improve the sward of the district where he lived 
would be an useful member of society : to raise a thick 
turf on a naked soil would be worth volumes of systematic 
knowledge; and he would be the best commonwealth's 
man that could occasion the growth of " two blades of 
grass where one alone was seen before." 

I am, etc. 



Selborne, July 3, 1778. 


IN a district so diversified with such a variety of hill and 
dale, aspects, and soils, it is no wonder that great choice 
of plants should be found. Chalks, clays, sands, sheep- 
walks and downs, bogs, heaths, woodlands, and champaign 
fields, cannot but furnish an ample Flora. The deep 
rocky lanes abound with filices, and the pastures and moist 
woods with fungi. If in any branch of botany we may 
seem to be wanting, it must be in the large aquatic plants, 
which are not to be expected on a spot far removed from 
rivers, and lying up amidst the hill country at the spring 
heads. To enumerate all the plants that have been 
discovered within our limits would be a needless work ; 
but a short list of the more rare, and the spots where 
they are to be found, may be neither unacceptable nor 
unentertaining : 

Helleborus foetidus, stinking hellebore, bear's foot, or 
setterwort, all over the High-wood and Coney-croft- 
hanger : this continues a great branching plant the winter 
through, blossoming about January, and is very orna- 
mental in shady walks and shrubberies. The good women 
give the leaves powdered to children troubled with worms ; 
but it is a violent remedy, and ought to be administered 
with caution. 

Helleborus viridis^ green hellebore, in the deep stony 
lane on the left hand just before the turning to Norton- 
farm, and at the top of Middle Dorton under the hedge : 
this plant dies down to the ground early in autumn, and 
springs again about February, flowering almost as soon as it 
appears above ground. 

Vaccinium oxycoccos, creeping bilberries, or cranberries, 
in the bogs of Bin's-pond ; 


Vaccinium myrtillus, whortle, or bilberries, on the dry 
hillocks of Wolmer-forest ; 

Drosera rotundifolia, round-leaved sundew. ) In the bogs of 

longifolia, long-leaved ditto. j Bin's-pond. 

Comarum pa/ustre, purple comarum, or marsh cinque 
foil, in the bogs of Bin's-pond ; 

Hypericon androsaemum, Tutsan, St. John's Wort, in 
the stony, hollow lanes; 

Vinca minor, less periwinkle, in Selborne-hanger and 
Shrubwood ; 

Monotropa hypopithys, yellow monotropa, or bird's nest, 
in Selborne-hanger under the shady beeches, to whose roots it 
seems to be parasitical at the north-west end of the Hanger. 

Chlora perfoliata, Blackstonia perfoliata, Hudsoni, per- 
foliated yellow-wort, on the banks in the King's-field ; 

Paris quadrifolia, herb Paris, true-love, or one-berry, 
in the Church-litten-coppice ; 

Chrysosplenium oppositifolium, opposite golden saxifrage, 
in the dark and rocky hollow lanes ; 

Gentiana amarella, autumnal gentian or fellwort, on 
the Zig-zag and Hanger ; 

Lathraea squammaria, tooth-wort, in the Church- 
litten coppice under some hazels near the foot-bridge, in 
Trimming's garden-hedge, and on the dry wall opposite 
Grange-yard ; 

Dipsacuspilosus, small teasel, in the Short and Long Lith; 

Lathyrus syhestris, narrow-leaved, or wild lathyrus, in 
the bushes at the foot of the Short Lith, near the path ; 

Ophrys spira/is, ladies' traces, in the Long Lith, and 
towards the south-corner of the common ; 

Ophrys nidus avis, birds' nest ophyrs, in the Long Lith 
under the shady beeches among the dead leaves ; in Great 
Dorton among the bushes, and on the Hanger plentifully ; 

Serapias latifolia, helleborine, in the High-wood under 
the shady beeches ; 

Daphne laureola, spurge laurel, in Selborne-Hanger 
and the High-wood ; 

Daphne mezereum, the mezereon, in Selborne-Hanger 
among the shrubs at the south-east end above the cottages ; 


Lycoperdon tuber, truffles, in the Hanger and High- 

Sambucus ebulus, dwarf elder, wallwort, or danewort, 
among the rubbish and ruined foundations of the Priory. 

Of all the propensities of plants none seem more strange 
than their different periods of blossoming. Some produce 
their flowers in the winter, or very first dawnings of 
spring ; many when the spring is established ; some at 
midsummer, and some not till autumn. When we see 
the helleborus foetidus and helleborus niger blowing at 
Christmas, the helleborus hyemalis in January, and the 
helleborus viridis as soon as ever it emerges out of the 
ground, we do not wonder, because they are kindred 
plants that we expect should keep pace the one with the 
other. But other congenerous vegetables differ so widely 
in their time of flowering that we cannot but admire. 
I shall only instance at present in the crocus sativus, the 
vernal, and the autumnal crocus, which have such an 
affinity, that the best botanists only make them varieties 
of the same genus, of which there is only one species; 
not being able to discern any difference in the corolla, or 
in the internal structure. Yet the vernal crocus expands 
its flowers by the beginning of March at farthest, and 
often in very rigorous weather ; and cannot be retarded 
but by some violence offered : while the autumnal (the 
Saffron) defies the influence of the spring and summer, 
and will not blow till most plants begin to fade and 
run to seed. This circumstance is one of the wonders of 
the creation, little noticed, because a common occurrence : 
yet ought not to be overlooked on account of its being 
familiar, since it would be as difficult to be explained as 
the most stupendous phaenomenon in nature. 

Say, what impels, amidst surrounding snow, 
Congealed, the crocus' flamy bud to grow ? 
Say, what retards, amidst the summer's blaze, 
Th' autumnal bulb till pale, declining days? 
The GOD of SEASONS whose pervading power 
Controls the sun, or sheds the fleecy shower : 
He bids each flower his quick'ning word obey ; 
Or to each lingering bloom enjoins delay. 



" Omnibus animalibus reliquis certus et uniusmodi, et in suo cuique 
genere incessus est : aves solae vario meatu feruntur, et in terra, et 
in acre." PLIN. Hist. Nat. lib. x. cap. 38. 

Selborne, Aug 7, 1778. 


A GOOD ornithologist should be able to distinguish birds 
by their air as well as by their colours and shape ; on the 
ground as well as on the wing, and in the bush as well as in 
the hand. For, though it must not be said that every species 
of birds has a manner peculiar to itself, yet there is some- 
what in most genera at least, that at first sight discriminates 
them, and enables a judicious observer to pronounce upon 
them with some certainty. Put a bird in motion 

" Et vera incessu patuit " 

Thus kites and buzzards sail round in circles with wings 
expanded and motionless; and it is from their gliding 
manner that the former are still called in the north of 
England gleads, from the Saxon verb glidan to glide. 
The kestrel, or wind-hover, has a peculiar mode of hang- 
ing in the air in one place, his wings all the while being 
briskly agitated. Hen-harriers fly low over heaths or 
fields of corn, and beat the ground regularly like a 
pointer or setting-dog. Owls move in a buoyant manner, 
as if lighter than the air ; they seem to want ballast. 
There is a peculiarity belonging to ravens that must draw 
the attention even of the most incurious they spend all 
their leisure time in striking and cuffing each other on the 
wing in a kind of playful skirmish ; and, when they move 
from one place to another, frequently turn on their backs 
with a loud croak, and seem to be falling to the ground. 
When this odd gesture betides them, they are scratching 
themselves with one foot, and thus lose the centre of 
gravity. Rooks sometimes dive and tumble in a frolic- 


some manner ; crows and daws swagger in their walk ; 
wood-peckers fly volatu undoso, opening and closing their 
wings at every stroke, and so are always rising or falling 
in curves. All of this genus use their tails, which incline 
downward, as a support while they run up trees. Parrots, 
like all other hooked-clawed birds, walk awkwardly, and 
make use of their bill as a third foot, climbing and ascend- 
ing with ridiculous caution. All the gallinae parade and 
walk gracefully, and run nimbly ; but fly with difficulty, 
with an impetuous whirring, and in a straight line. Magpies 
and jays flutter with powerless wings, and make no dispatch ; 
herons seem incumbered with too much sail for their light 
bodies ; but these vast hollow wings are necessary in carry- 
ing burdens, such as large fishes, and the like ; pigeons, and 
particularly the sort called smiters, have a way of clashing 
their wings the one against the other over their backs with 
a loud snap; another variety called tumblers turn them- 
selves over in the air. Some birds have movements 
peculiar to the season of love : thus ring-doves, though 
strong and rapid at other times, yet in the spring hang 
about on the wing in a toying and playful manner ; thus 
the cock-snipe, while breeding, forgetting his former flight, 
fans the air like the wind-hover ; and the green-finch 
in particular exhibits such languishing and faltering 
gestures as to appear like a wounded and dying bird ; the 
king-fisher darts along like an arrow ; fern-owls, or goat- 
suckers, glance in the dusk over the tops of trees like 
a meteor : starlings as it were swim along, while missel- 
thrushes use a wild and desultory flight ; swallows sweep 
over the surface of the ground and water, and distinguish 
themselves by rapid turns and quick evolutions ; swifts 
dash round in circles ; and the bank-martin moves with 
frequent vacillations like a butterfly. Most of the small 
birds fly by jerks, rising and falling as they advance. 
Most small birds hop ; but wagtails and larks walk, 
moving their legs alternately. Skylarks rise and fall 
perpendicularly as they sing : woodlarks hang poised in 
the air ; and titlarks rise and fall in large curves, singing 
in their descent. The white-throat uses odd jerks and 


gesticulations over the tops of hedges and bushes. All the 
duck-kind waddle; divers and auks walk as if fettered, 
and stand erect on their tails : these are the compedes of 
Linnaeus. Geese and cranes, and most wild-fowls, move 
in figured flights, often changing their position. The 
secondary remiges of Tringae, wild-ducks, and some 
others, are very long, and give their wings, when in 
motion, an hooked appearance. Dab-chicks, moor-hens, 
and coots, fly erect, with their legs hanging down, and 
hardly make any dispatch ; the reason is plain, their wings 
are placed too forward out of the true centre of gravity ; 
as the legs of auks and divers are situated too backward. 


Selborne, Sept. 9, 1778. 


FROM the motion of birds, the transition is natural enough 
to their notes and language, of which I shall say something. 
Not that I would pretend to understand their language like 
the vizier; who, by the recital of a conversation which 
passed between two owls, reclaimed a sultan, 1 before 
delighting in conquest and devastation ; but I would be 
thought only to mean that many of the winged tribes have 
various sounds and voices adapted to express their various 
passions, wants, and feelings ; such as anger, fear, love, 
hatred, hunger, and the like. All species are not equally 
eloquent ; some are copious and fluent as it were in their 
utterance, while others are confined to a few important 
sounds : no bird, like the fish kind, is quite mute, though 
some are rather silent. The language of birds is very 
ancient, and, like other ancient modes of speech, very 
elliptical : little is said, but much is meant and understood. 
l Set Spectator, Vol. VIL, No. 512. 


The notes of the eagle-kind are shrill and piercing ; and 
about the season of nidification much diversified, as I have 
been often assured by a curious observer of Nature, who 
long resided at Gibraltar, where eagles abound. The notes 
of our hawks much resemble those of the king of birds. 
Owls have very expressive notes ; they hoot in a fine vocal 
sound, much resembling the vox humana^ and reducible by 
a pitch-pipe to a musical key. This note seems to express 
complacency and rivalry among the males : they use also a 
quick call and an horrible scream ; and can snore and hiss 
when they mean to menace. Ravens, besides their loud 
croak, can exert a deep and solemn note that makes the 
woods to echo ; the amorous sound of a crow is strange 
and ridiculous; rooks, in the breeding season, attempt 
sometimes in the gaiety of their hearts to sing, but with no 
great success ; the parrot-kind have many modulations of 
voice, as appears by their aptitude to learn human sounds ; 
doves coo in an amorous and mournful manner, and are 
emblems of despairing lovers ; the woodpecker sets up a 
sort of loud and hearty laugh ; the fern-owl, or goat-sucker, 
from the dusk till day-break, serenades his mate with the 
clattering of castanets. All the tuneful passeres express 
their complacency by sweet modulations, and a variety of 
melody. The swallow, as has been observed in a former 
letter, by a shrill alarm bespeaks the attention of the other 
hirundines, and bids them be aware that the hawk is at 
hand. Aquatic and gregarious birds, especially the noc- 
turnal, that shift their quarters in the dark, are very noisy 
and loquacious ; as cranes, wild-geese, wild-ducks, and the 
like ; their perpetual clamour prevents them from dispers- 
ing and losing their companions. 

In so extensive a subject, sketches and outlines are as 
much as can be expected; for it would be endless to 
instance in all the infinite variety of the feathered nation. 
We shall therefore confine the remainder of this letter to 
the few domestic fowls of our yards, which are most known, 
and therefore best understood. At first the peacock, with 
his gorgeous train demands our attention ; but, like most 
of the gaudy birds, his notes are grating and shocking to 


the ear : the yelling of cats, and the braying of an ass, are 
not more disgustful. The voice of the goose is trumpet- 
like, and clanking ; and once saved the Capitol at Rome, 
as grave historians assert: the hiss also of the gander is 
formidable and full of menace, and " protective of his 
young." Among ducks the sexual distinction of voice is 
remarkable ; for, while the quack of the female is loud and 
sonorous, the voice of the drake is inward and harsh and 
feeble, and scarce discernible. The cock turkey struts 
and gobbles to his mistress in a most uncouth manner ; he 
hath also a pert and petulant note when he attacks his 
adversary. When a hen turkey leads forth her young 
brood she keeps a watchful eye: and if a bird of prey 
appear, though ever so high in the air, the careful mother 
announces the enemy with a little inward moan, and 
watches him with a steady and attentive look ; but, if he 
approach, her note becomes earnest and alarming, and her 
outcries are redoubled. 

No inhabitants of a yard seem possessed of such a 
variety of expression and so copious a language as common 
poultry. Take a chicken of four or five days old, and 
hold it up to a window where there are flies, and it will 
immediately seize its prey, with little twitterings of com- 
placency ; but if you tender it a wasp or a bee, at once its 
note becomes harsh, and expressive of disapprobation and a 
sense of danger. When a pullet is ready to lay she 
intimates the event by a joyous and easy soft note. Of all 
the occurrences of their life that of laying seems to be the 
most important ; for no sooner has a hen disburdened her- 
self, than she rushes forth with a clamorous kind of joy, 
which the cock and the rest of his mistresses immediately 
adopt. The tumult is not confined to the family concerned, 
but catches from yard to yard, and spreads to every home- 
stead within hearing, till at last the whole village is in an 
uproar. As soon as a hen becomes a mother her new rela- 
tion demands a new language ; she then runs clocking and 
screaming about, and seems agitated as if possessed. The 
father of the flock has also a considerable vocabulary; if 
he finds food, he calls a favourite concubine to partake ; 


and if a bird of prey passes over, with a warning voice he 
bids his family beware. The gallant chanticleer has, at 
command, his amorous phrases, and his terms of defiance. 
But the sound by which he is best known is his crowing : 
by this he has been distinguished in all ages as the country- 
man's clock or larum, as the watchman that proclaims the 
divisions of the night. Thus the poet elegantly styles him : 

" the crested cock, whose clarion sounds 

The silent hours." 

A neighbouring gentleman one summer had lost most 
of his chickens by a sparrow-hawk, that came gliding 
down between a faggot pile and the end of his house to 
the place where the coops stood. The owner, inwardly 
vexed to see his flock thus diminishing, hung a setting net 
adroitly between the pile and the house, into which the 
caitiff dashed and was entangled. Resentment suggested 
the law of retaliation ; he therefore clipped the hawk's 
wings, cut off his talons, and, fixing a cork on his bill, 
threw him down among the brood-hens. Imagination 
cannot paint the scene that ensued; the expressions that 
fear, rage, and revenge, inspired, were new, or at least 
such as had been unnoticed before : the exasperated 
matrons upbraided, they execrated, they insulted, they 
triumphed. In a word, they never desisted from buffeting 
their adversary till they had torn him in an hundred pieces. 


" monstrent 

Quid tantum Oceano properent se tingere soles 
Hyberni ; vel quae tardis mora noctibus obstet." 

GENTLEMEN who have outlets might contrive to make 
ornament subservient to utility ; a pleasing eye-trap might 


also contribute to promote science : an obelisk in a garden 
or park might be both an embellishment and an heliotrope. 

Any person that is curious, and enjoys the advantage of 
a good horizon, might, with little trouble, make two 
heliotropes ; the one for the winter, the other for the 
summer solstice : and these two erections might be con- 
structed with very little expense ; for two pieces of timber 
frame-work, about ten or twelve feet high, and four feet 
broad at the base, and close lined with plank, would 
answer the purpose. 

The erection for the former should, if possible, be placed 
within sight of some window in the common sitting 
parlour ; because men, at that dead season of the year, are 
usually within doors at the close of the day ; while that for 
the latter might be fixed for any given spot in the garden 
or outlet : whence the owner might contemplate, in a fine 
summer's evening, the utmost extent that the sun makes 
to the northward at the season of the longest days. Now 
nothing would be necessary but to place these two objects 
with so much exactness, that the westerly limb of the sun, 
at setting, might but just clear the winter heliotrope to the 
west of it on the shortest day ; and that the whole disc of 
the sun, at the longest day, might exactly at setting also 
clear the summer heliotrope to the north of it. 

By this simple expedient it would soon appear that there 
is no such thing, strictly speaking, as a solstice ; for, from 
the shortest day, the owner would, every clear evening, see 
the disc advancing, at its setting, to the westward of the 
object; and, from the longest day, observe the sun retiring 
backwards every evening at its setting, towards the object 
westward, till, in a few nights, it would set quite behind it, 
and so by degrees to the west of it : for when the sun 
comes near the summer solstice, the whole disc of it would 
at first set behind the object : after a time the northern 
limb would first appear, and so every night graduallv 
more, till at length the whole diameter would set north- 
ward of it for about three nights ; but on the middle night 
of the three, sensibly more remote than the former or 
following. When beginning its recess from the summer 


tropic, it would continue more and more to be hidden 
every night, till at length it would descend quite behind 
the object again ; and so nightly more and more to the 



Sel borne. 

" Mugire videbis 
Sub pedibus terram, et descendere montibus ornos." 

WHEN I was a boy I used to read, with astonishment and 
implicit assent, accounts in "Baker's Chronicle" of walking 
hills and travelling mountains. John Philips, in his " Cyder," 
alludes to the credit that was given to such stories with a 
delicate but quaint vein of humour peculiar to the author 
of the " Splendid Shilling." 

" I nor advise, nor reprehend the choice 
Of Marcley Hill ; the apple no where finds 
A kinder mould : yet 'tis unsafe to trust 
Deceitful ground : who knows but that once more 
This mount may journey, and his present site 
Forsaken, to thy neighbour's bounds transfer 
Thy goodly plants, affording matter strange 
For law debates ! " 

But, when I came to consider better, I began to suspect 
that though our hills may never have journeyed far, yet 
that the ends of many of them have slipped and fallen 
away at distant periods, leaving the cliffs bare and abrupt. 
This seems to have been the case with Nore and Whetham 
Hills ; and especially with the ridge between Harteley 
Park and Ward le Ham, where the ground has slid into 
vast swellings and furrows ; and lies still in such romantic 
confusion as cannot be accounted for from any other 
cause. A strange event, that happened not long since, 
justifies our suspicions ; which, though it befell not within 


the limits of this parish, yet as it was within the hundred 
of Selborne, and as the circumstances were singular, may 
fairly claim a place in a work of this nature. 

The months of January and February, in the year 1774, 
were remarkable for great melting snows and vast gluts of 
rain, so that by the end of the latter month the land- 
springs, or lavants, began to prevail, and to be near as 
high as in the memorable winter of 1764. The beginning 
of March also went on in the same tenor ; when, in the 
night between the 8th and 9th of that month, a con- 
siderable part of the great woody hanger at Hawkley was 
torn from its place, and fell down, leaving a high freestone 
cliff naked and bare,, and resembling the steep side of a 
chalk-pit. It appears that this huge fragment, being 
perhaps sapped and undermined by waters, foundered, and 
was ingulfed, going down in a perpendicular direction ; for 
a gate which stood in the field, on the top of the hill, after 
sinking with its posts for thirty or forty feet, remained in 
so true and upright a position as to open and shut with 
great exactness, just as in its first situation. Several oaks 
also are still standing, and in a state of vegetation, after 
taking the same desperate leap. That great part of this 
prodigious mass was absorbed in some gulf below, is plain 
also from the inclining ground at the bottom of the hill, 
which is free and unincumbered ; but would have been 
buried in heaps of rubbish, had the fragment parted and 
fallen forward. About an hundred yards from the foot of 
this hanging coppice stood a cottage by the side of a lane ; 
and two hundred yards lower, on the other side of the 
lane, was a farm-house, in which lived a labourer and his 
family ; and, just by, a stout new barn. The cottage was 
inhabited by an old woman and her son and his wife. 
These people in the evening, which was very dark and 
tempestuous, observed that the brick floors of their 
kitchens began to heave and part ; and that the walls 
seemed to open, and the roofs to crack : but they all agree 
that no tremor of the ground, indicating an earthquake, 
was ever felt ; only that the wind continued to make a 
most tremendous roaring in the woods and hangers. The 


miserable inhabitants, not daring to go to bed, remained in 
the utmost solicitude and confusion, expecting every 
moment to be buried under the ruins of their shattered 
edifices. When day-light came they were at leisure to 
contemplate the devastations of the night : they then found 
that a deep rift, or chasm, had opened under their houses, 
and torn them, as it were, in two ; and that one end of 
the barn had suffered in a similar manner; that a pond 
near the cottage had undergone a strange reverse, becom- 
ing deep at the shallow end, and so vice versa ; that many 
large oaks were removed out of their perpendicular, some 
thrown down, and some fallen into the heads of neigh- 
bouring trees ; and that a gate was thrust forward, with its 
hedge, full six feet, so as to require a new track to be 
made to it. From the foot of the cliff the general course 
of the ground, which is pasture, inclines in a moderate 
descent for half a mile, and is interspersed with some 
hillocks, which were rifted, in every direction, as well 
towards the great woody hanger, as from it. In the first 
pasture the deep clefts began : and running across the 
lane, and under the buildings, made such vast shelves that 
the road was impassable for some time ; and so over to an 
arable field on the other side, which was strangely torn 
and disordered. The second pasture field, being more 
soft and springy, was protruded forward without many 
fissures in the turf, which was raised in long ridges 
resembling graves, lying at right angles to the motion. 
At the bottom of this enclosure the soil and turf rose 
many feet against the bodies of some oaks that obstructed 
their farther course and terminated this awful commotion. 
The perpendicular height of the precipice, in general, is 
twenty-three yards ; the length of the lapse, or slip, as seen 
from the fields below, one hundred and eighty-one ; and a 
partial fall, concealed in the coppice, extends seventy yards 
more : so that the total length of this fragment that fell 
was two hundred and fifty-one yards. About fifty acres 
of land suffered from this violent convulsion ; two houses 
were entirely destroyed ; one end of a new barn was left 
in ruins, the walls being cracked through the very stones 


that composed them ; a hanging coppice was changed to 
a naked rock ;- and some grass grounds and an arable field 
so broken and rifted by the chasms as to be rendered, for 
a time, neither fit for the plough or safe for pasturage, till 
considerable labour and expense had been bestowed in 
levelling the surface and filling in the gaping fissures. 



" resonant arbusta " 

THERE is a steep abrupt pasture field interspersed with 
furze close to the back of this village, well known by the 
name of the Short Lithe, consisting of a rocky dry soil, and 
inclining to the afternoon sun. This spot abounds with 
the gryllus campestris, or field -cricket; which, though 
frequent in these parts, is by no means a common insect 
in many other counties. 

As their cheerful summer cry cannot but draw the atten- 
tion of a naturalist, I have often gone down to examine the 
oeconomy of these grylli, and study their mode of life : but 
they are so shy and cautious that it is no easy matter to 
get a sight of them ; for, feeling a person's footsteps as 
he advances, they stop short in the midst of their song, 
and retire backward nimbly into their burrows, where they 
lurk till all suspicion of danger is over. 

At first we attempted to dig them out with a spade, but 
without any great success ; for either we could not get to 
the bottom of the hole, which often terminated under a 
great stone; or else, in breaking up the ground, we inad- 
vertently squeezed the poor insect to death. Out of one 
so bruised we took a multitude of eggs, which were long 
and narrow, of a yellow colour, and covered with a very 


tough skin. By this accident we learned to distinguish the 
male from the female ; the former of which is shining black, 
with a golden stripe across his shoulders ; the latter is more 
dusky, more capacious about the abdomen, and carries a 
long sword-shaped weapon at her tail, which probably is 
the instrument with which she deposits her eggs in crannies 
and safe receptacles. 

Where violent methods will not avail, more gentle 
means will often succeed ; and so it proved in the present 
case ; for, though a spade be too boisterous and rough an 
implement, a pliant stalk of grass, gently insinuated into 
the caverns, will probe their windings to the bottom, and 
quickly bring out the inhabitant; and thus the humane 
inquirer may gratify his curiosity without injuring the 
object of it. It is remarkable that, though these insects 
are furnished with long legs behind, and brawny thighs for 
leaping, like grasshoppers ; yet when driven from their 
holes they show no activity, but crawl along in a shiftless 
manner, so as easily to be taken : and again, though pro- 
vided with a curious apparatus of wings, yet they never 
exert them when there seems to be the greatest occasion. 
The males only make that shrilling noise perhaps out of 
rivalry and emulation, as is the case with many animals 
which exert some sprightly note during their breeding 
time : it is raised by a brisk friction of one wing against 
the other. They are solitary beings, living singly male or 
female, each as it may happen ; but there must be a time 
when the sexes have some intercourse, and then the wings 
may be useful perhaps during the hours of night. When 
the males meet they will fight fiercely, as I found by some 
which I put into the crevices of a dry stone wall, where I 
should have been glad to have made them settle. For 
though they seemed distressed by being taken out of their 
knowledge, yet the first that got possession of the chinks 
would seize on any that were obtruded upon them with a 
vast row of serrated fangs. With their strong jaws, toothed 
like the shears of a lobster's claws, they perforate and round 
their curious regular cells, having no fore-claws to dig, like 
the mole-cricket. When taken in hand I could not but 


wonder that they never offered to defend themselves, 
though armed with such formidable weapons. Of such 
herbs as grow "before the mouths of their burrows they eat 
indiscriminately ; and on a little platform, which they make 
just by, they drop their dung ; and never, in the day time, 
seem to stir more than two or three inches from home. 
Sitting in the entrance of their caverns they chirp all night 
as well as day from the middle of the month of May to 
the middle of July ; and in hot weather, when they are 
most vigorous, they make the hills echo ; and, in the stiller 
hours of darkness, may be heard to a considerable distance. 
In the beginning of the season their notes are more faint 
and inward ; but become louder as the summer advances, 
and so die away again by degrees. 

Sounds do not always give us pleasure according to their 
sweetness and melody; nor do harsh sounds always dis- 
please. We are more apt to be captivated or disgusted 
with the associations which they promote, than with the 
notes themselves. Thus the shrilling of the field-cricket, 
though sharp and stridulous, yet marvellously delights some 
hearers, filling their minds with a train of summer ideas of 
every thing that is rural, verdurous, and joyous. 

About the tenth of March the crickets appear at the 
mouths of their cells, which they then open and bore, and 
shape very elegantly. All that ever I have seen at that 
season were in their pupa state, and had only the rudiments 
of wings, lying under a skin or coat, which must be cast 
before the insect can arrive at its perfect state; 1 from whence 
I should suppose that the old ones of last year do not always 
survive the winter. In August their holes begin to be ob- 
literated, and the insects are seen no more till spring. 

Not many summers ago I endeavoured to transplant a 
colony to the terrace in my garden, by boring deep holes in 
the sloping turf. The new inhabitants stayed some time, 
and fed and sung ; but wandered away by degrees, and 
were heard at a farther distance every morning ; so that it 
appears that on this emergency they made use of their 

1 We have observed that they cast these skins in April, which are then 
seen lying at the mouths of their holes. 


wings in attempting to return to the spot from which they 
were taken. 

One of these crickets, when confined in a paper cage and 
set in the sun, and supplied with plants moistened with 
water, will feed and thrive, and become so merry and loud 
as to be irksome in the same room where a person is sit- 
ting : if the plants are not wetted it will die. 


Sel borne. 


" Far from all resort of mirth 
Save the cricket on the hearth." MILTON'S II Penseroso. 

WHILE many other insects must be sought after in fields and 
woods, and waters, the gryllus domesticus, or house cricket, 
resides altogether within our dwellings, intruding itself 
upon our notice whether we will or no. This species 
delights in new-built houses, being, like the spider, pleased 
with the moisture of the walls ; and besides, the softness of 
the mortar enables them to burrow and mine between the 
joints of the bricks or stones, and to open communications 
from one room to another. They are particularly fond of 
kitchens and bakers' ovens, on account of their perpetual 

Tender insects that live abroad either enjoy only the 
short period of one summer, or else doze away the cold 
uncomfortable months in profund slumbers; but these, 
residing as it were in a torrid zone, are always alert and 
merry : a good Christmas fire is to them like the heats of 
the dog-days. Though they are frequently heard by day, 
yet is their natural time of motion only in the night. As 
soon as it grows dusk, the chirping increases, and they come 


running forth, and are from the size of a flea to that of 
their full stature. As one should suppose, from the burn- 
ing atmosphere which they inhabit, they are a thirsty race, 
and show a great propensity for liquids, being found 
frequently drowned in pans of water, milk, broth, or the 
like. Whatever is moist they affect ; and therefore often 
gnaw holes in wet woollen stockings and aprons that are 
hung to the fire : they are the housewife's barometer, fore- 
telling her when it will rain ; and are prognostic sometimes, 
she thinks, of ill or good luck ; of the death of a near 
relation, or the approach of an absent lover. By being 
the constant companions of her solitary hours they natu- 
rally become the objects of her superstition. These crickets 
are not only very thirsty, but very voracious ; for they 
will eat the scummings of pots, and yeast, salt, and crumbs 
of bread ; and any kitchen offal or sweepings. In the 
summer we have observed them to fly, when it became 
dusk, out of the windows, and over the neighbouring roofs. 
This feat of activity accounts for the sudden manner in 
which they often leave their haunts, as it does for the 
method by which they come to houses where they were 
not known before. It is remarkable, that many sorts of 
insects seem never to use their wings but when they have 
a mind to shift their quarters and settle new colonies. 
When in the air they move " volatu undoso" in waves or 
curves, like wood-peckers, opening and shutting their wings 
at every stroke, and so are always rising or sinking. 

When they increase to a great degree, as they did once in 
the house where I am now writing, they become noisome 
pests, flying into the candles, and dashing into people's 
faces; but may be blasted and destroyed by gunpowder 
discharged into their crevices and crannies. In families, at 
such times, they are, like Pharaoh's plague of frogs, " in 
their bed-chambers, and upon their beds, and in their ovens, 
and in their kneading-troughs." * Their shrilling noise is 
occasioned by a brisk attrition of their wings. Cats catch 
hearth crickets, and, playing with them as they do with 
mice, devour them. Crickets may be destroyed, like wasps, 

1 Exod. viii. 3. 


by phials half filled with beer, or any liquid, and set in 
their haunts ; for, being always eager to drink, they will 
crowd in till the bottles are full. 




How diversified are the modes of life not only of incon- 
gruous but even of congenerous animals; and yet their 
specific distinctions are not more various than their pro- 
pensities. Thus, while the field-cricket delights in sunny 
dry banks, and the house-cricket rejoices amidst the 
glowing heat of the kitchen hearth or oven, the gryllus 
gryllo talpa (the mole-cricket), haunts moist meadows, and 
frequents the sides of ponds and banks of streams, per- 
forming all its functions in a swampy wet soil. With a 
pair of fore-feet, curiously adapted to the purpose, it 
burrows and works under ground like the mole, raising a 
ridge as it proceeds, but seldom throwing up hillocks. 

As mole-crickets often infest gardens by the sides of 
canals, they are unwelcome guests to the gardener, raising 
up ridges in their subterraneous progress, and rendering 
the walks unsightly. If they take to the kitchen quarters, 
they occasion great damage among the plants and roots, by 
destroying whole beds of cabbages, young legumes, and 
flowers. When dug out they seem very slow and helpless, 
and make no use of their wings by day ; but at night they 
come abroad, and make long excursions, as I have been 
convinced by finding stragglers, in a morning, in improb- 
able places. In fine weather, about the middle of April, 
and just at the close of day, they begin to solace themselves 
with a low, dull, jarring note, continued for a long time 
without interruption, and not unlike the chattering of the 
fern-owl, or goat-sucker, but more inward. 


About the beginning of May they lay their eggs, as I 
was once an eye-witness : for a gardener at an house, where 
I was on a visit, happening to be mowing, on the 6th of 
that month, by the side of a canal, his scythe struck too 
deep, pared off a large piece of turf, and laid open to view 
a curious scene of domestic oeconomy : 

" ingentem lato dedit ore fenestram : 

Apparet domus intus, et atria longa patescunt: 
Apparent penetralia." 

There were many caverns and winding passages leading 
to a kind of chamber, neatly smoothed and rounded, and 
about the size of a moderate snuff-box. Within this secret 
nursery were deposited near an hundred eggs of a dirty 
yellow colour, and enveloped in a tough skin, but too lately 
excluded to contain any rudiments of young, being full of 
a viscous substance. The eggs lay but shallow, and within 
the influence of the sun, just under a little heap of fresh- 
moved mould, like that which is raised by ants. 

When mole-crickets fly they move " cursu undoso" rising 
and falling in curves, like the other species mentioned before. 
In different parts of this kingdom people call them fen- 
crickets, churr-worms, and eve-churrs, all very apposite 

Anatomists, who have examined the intestines of these 
insects, astonish me with their accounts ; for they say that, 
from the structure, position, and number of their stomachs, 
or maws, there seems to be good reason to suppose that this 
and the two former species ruminate or chew the cud like 
many quadrupeds ! 


Selborne, May 7, 1779. 

IT is now more than forty years that I have paid some 
attention to the ornithology of this district, without being 


able to exhaust the subject : new occurrences still arise as 
long as any inquiries are kept alive. 

In the last week of last month five of those most rare 
birds, too uncommon to have obtained an English name, 
but known to naturalists by the terms of himantopus, or 
loripes, and charadrius himantopus, were shot upon the 
verge of Frinsham-pond, a large lake belonging to the 
bishop of Winchester, and lying between Wolmer-forest, 
and the town of Farnham, in the county of Surrey. The 
pond keeper says there were three brace in the flock ; but 
that, after he had satisfied his curiosity, he suffered the 
sixth to remain unmolested. One of these specimens I 
procured, and found the length of the legs to be so extra- 
ordinary, that, at first sight, one might have supposed the 
shanks had been fastened on to impose on the credulity of 
the beholder : they were legs in caricatura ; and had we 
seen such proportions on a Chinese or Japan screen we 
should have made large allowances for the fancy of the 
draughtsman. These birds are of the plover family, and 
might with propriety be called the stilt plovers. Brisson, 
under that idea, gives them the apposite name of rkchasse. 
My specimen, when drawn and stuffed with pepper, 
weighed only four ounces and a quarter, though the 
naked part of the thigh measured three inches and an half, 
and the legs four inches and an half. Hence we may safely 
assert that these birds exhibit, weight for inches, incompar- 
ably the greatest length of legs of any known bird. The 
flamingo, for instance is one of the most long legged birds, 
and yet it bears no manner of proportion to the himan- 
topus ; for a cock flamingo weighs, at an average, about 
four pounds avoirdupois ; and his legs and thighs measure 
usually about twenty inches. But four pounds are fifteen 
times and a fraction more than four ounces and one 
quarter ; and if four ounces and a quarter have eight 
inches of legs, four pounds must have one hundred and 
twenty inches and a fraction of legs ; viz. somewhat more 
than ten feet ; such a monstrous proportion as the world 
never saw ! If you should try the experiment in still 
larger birds the disparity would still increase. It must 


be matter of great curiosity to see the stilt plover move ; 
to observe how it can wield such a length of lever with 
such feeble muscles as the thighs seem to be furnished 
with. At best one should expect it to be but a bad 
walker: but what adds to the wonder is that it has no 
back toe. Now without that steady prop to support its 
steps it must be liable, in speculation, to perpetual vacilla- 
tions, and seldom able to preserve the true centre of 

The old name of himantopus is taken from Pliny ; and, 
by an awkward metaphor, implies that the legs are as 
slender and pliant as if cut out of a thong of leather. 
Neither Willughby nor Ray, in all their curious re- 
searches either at home or abroad, ever saw this bird. 
Mr. Pennant never met with it in all Great-Britain, but 
observed it often in the cabinets of the curious at Paris. 
Hasselquist says that it migrates to Egypt in the autumn : 
and a most accurate observer of Nature has assured me 
that he has found it on the banks of the streams in 

Our writers record it to have been found only twice in 
Great-Britain. From all these relations it plainly appears 
that these long legged plovers are birds of South Europe, 
and rarely visit our island ; and when they do are 
wanderers and stragglers, and impelled to make so distant 
and northern an excursion from motives or accidents for 
which we are not able to account. One thing may fairly 
be deduced, that these birds come over to us from the 
continent, since nobody can suppose that a species not 
noticed once in an age, and of such a remarkable make, 
can constantly breed unobserved in this kingdom. 




Selborne, April 21, 1780. 


THE old Sussex tortoise, that I have mentioned to you so 
often, is become my property. I dug it out of its winter 
dormitory in March last, when it was enough awakened to 
express its resentments by hissing ; and, packing it in a box 
with earth, carried it eighty miles in post-chaises. The rattle 
and hurry of the journey so perfectly roused it that, when 
I turned it out on a border, it wallced twice down to the 
bottom of my garden ; however, in the evening, the 
weather being cold, it buried itself in the loose mould, 
and continues still concealed. 

As it will be under my eye, I shall now have an oppor- 
tunity of enlarging my observations on its mode of life, 
and propensities ; and perceive, already that, towards the 
time of coming forth, it opens a breathing place in the 
ground near its head, requiring, I conclude, a freer respira- 
tion, as it becomes more alive. This creature not only 
goes under the earth from the middle of November to the 
middle of April, but sleeps great part of the summer ; for 
it goes to bed in the longest days at four in the afternoon, 
and often does not stir in the morning till late. Besides, 
it retires to rest for every shower ; and does not move at 
all in wet days. 

When one reflects on the state of this strange being, it 
is a matter of wonder to find that Providence should 
bestow such a profusion of days, such a seeming waste 
of longevity, on a reptile that appears to relish it so little 
as to squander more than two-thirds of its existence in a 
joyless stupor, and be lost to all sensation for months 
together in the profoundest of slumbers. 

While I was writing this letter, a moist and warm after- 
noon, with the thermometer at 50, brought forth troops 


of shell-snails; and, at the same juncture, the tortoise 
heaved up the mould and put out its head ; and the next 
morning came forth, as it were raised from the dead ; and 
walked about till four in the afternoon. This was a 
curious coincidence ! a very amusing occurrence ! to see 
such a similarity of feelings between the two fapeoiicoi ! 
for so the Greeks call both the shell-snail and the tortoise. 
Summer birds are, this cold and backward spring, 
unusually late : I have seen but one swallow yet. This 
conformity with the weather convinces me more and more 
that they sleep in the winter. 



Selborne, Sept. 3, 1781. 

I HAVE now read your miscellanies through with much 
care and satisfaction : and am to return you my best 
thanks for the honourable mention made in them of me as 
a naturalist, which I wish I may deserve. 

In some former letters I expressed my suspicions that 
many of the house-martins do not depart in the winter far 
from this village. I therefore determined to make some 
search about the south-east end of the hill, where I 
imagined they might slumber out the uncomfortable 
months of winter. But supposing that the examination 
would be made to the best advantage in the spring, and 
observing that no martins had appeared by the 1 1 th of 
April last ; on that day I employed some men to explore 
the shrubs and cavities of the suspected spot. The persons 
took pains, but without any success : however, a remark- 
able incident occurred in the midst of our pursuit while 
the labourers were at work a house-martin, the first that 
had been seen this year, came down the village in the sight 
of several people, and went at once into a nest, where 


it stayed a short time, and then flew over the houses ; for 
some days after no martins were observed, not till the 
1 6th of April, and then only a pair. Martins in general 
were remarkably late this year. 



Selborne, Sept. 9, 1781. 

I HAVE just met with a circumstance respecting swifts, 
which furnishes an exception to the whole tenor of my 
observations ever since I have bestowed any attention on 
that species of hirundines. Our swifts, in general, with- 
drew this year about the first day of August, all save 
one pair, which in two or three days was reduced to 
a single bird. The perseverance of this individual made 
me suspect that the strongest of motives, that of an 
attachment to her young, could alone occasion so late 
a stay. I watched therefore till the twenty-fourth of 
August, and then discovered that, under the eaves of 
the church, she attended upon two young, which were 
fledged, and now put out their white chins from a 
crevice. These remained till the twenty-seventh, looking 
more alert every day, and seeming to long to be on the 
wing. After this day they were missing at once; nor 
could I ever observe them with their dam coursing round 
the church in the act of learning to fly, as the first broods 
evidently do. On the thirty-first I caused the eaves to be 
searched, but we found in the nest only two callow, dead, 
stinking swifts, on which a second nest had been formed. 
This double nest was full of the black shining cases of 
the hippoboscae hirundinis. 

The following remarks on this unusual incident are 
obvious. The first is, that though it may be disagreeable 
to swifts to remain beyond the beginning of August, yet 


that they can subsist longer is undeniable. The second is, 
that this uncommon event, as it was owing to the loss 
of the first brood, so it corroborates my former remark, 
that swifts breed regularly but once ; since, was the con- 
trary the case, the occurrence above could neither be new 
nor rare. 

P.S. One swift was seen at Lyndon, in the county 
of Rutland, in 1782, so late as the third of September. 



As I have sometimes known you make inquiries about 
several kinds of insects, I shall here send you an account 
of one sort which I little expected to have found in 
this kingdom. I had often observed that one particular 
part of a vine growing on the walls of my house was 
covered in the autumn with a black dust-like appearance, 
on which the flies fed eagerly; and that the shoots and 
leaves thus affected did not thrive ; nor did the fruit ripen , 
To this substance I applied my glasses ; but could not 
discover that it had anything to do with animal life, as 
I at first expected : but, upon a closer examination behind 
the larger boughs, we were surprised to find that they were 
coated over with husky shells, from whose sides proceeded 
a cotton-like substance, surrounding a multitude of eggs. 
This curious and uncommon production put me upon 
recollecting what I have heard and read concerning the 
coccus vitis viniferae of Linnaeus, which, in the south of 
Europe, infests many vines, and is an horrid and loathsome 
pest. As soon as I had turned to the accounts given of 
this insect, I saw at once that it swarmed on my vine ; 
and did not appear to have been at all checked by the 
preceding winter, which had been uncommonly severe. 
Not being then at all aware that it had anything to 


do with England, I was much inclined to think that it 
came from Gibraltar among the many boxes and packages 
of plants and birds which I had formerly received from 
thence ; and especially as the vine infested grew immedi- 
ately under my study-window, where I usually kept my 
specimens. True it is that I had received nothing from 
thence for some years : but as insects, we know, are 
conveyed from one country to another in a very unex- 
pected manner, and have a wonderful power of maintaining 
their existence till they fall into a nidus proper for their 
support and increase, I cannot but suspect still that these 
cocci came to me originally from Andalusia. Yet, all the 
while, candour obliges me to confess that Mr. Lightfoot 
has written me word that he once, and but once, saw these 
insects on a vine at Weymouth in Dorsetshire; which, 
it is here to be observed, is a seaport town to which 
the coccus might be conveyed by shipping. 

As many of my readers may possibly never have heard 
of this strange and unusual insect, I shall here transcribe a 
passage from a natural history of Gibraltar, written by the 
Reverend John White, late vicar of Blackburn in Lanca- 
shire, but not yet published : 

" In the year 1770 a vine which grew on the east-side of 
my house, and which had produced the finest crops of 
grapes for years past, was suddenly overspread on all the 
woody branches with large lumps of a white fibrous sub- 
stance resembling spiders' webs, or rather raw cotton. It 
was of a very clammy quality, sticking fast to every thing 
that touched it, and capable of being spun into long 
threads. At first I suspected it to be the produce of 
spiders, but could find none. Nothing was to be seen 
connected with it but many brown oval husky shells, which 
by no means looked like insects, but rather resembled bits 
of the dry bark of the vine. The tree had a plentiful 
crop of grapes set, when this pest appeared upon it ; but 
the fruit was manifestly injured by this foul incumbrance. 
It remained all the summer, still increasing, and loaded the 
woody and bearing branches to a vast degree. I often pulled 
off great quantities by handfuls ; but it was so slimy and 


tenacious that it could by no means be cleared. The grapes 
never filled to their natural perfection, but turned watery 
and vapid. Upon perusing the works afterwards of M. de 
Reaumur, I found this matter perfectly described and 
accounted for. Those husky shells, which I had observed, 
were no other than the female coccus, from whose sides this 
cotton-like substance exudes, and serves as a covering and 
security for their eggs." 

To this account I think proper to add, that, though the 
female cocci are stationary, and seldom remove from the 
place to which they stick, yet the male is a winged insect ; 
and that the black dust which I saw was undoubtedly the 
excrement of the females, which is eaten by ants as well as 
flies. Though the utmost severity of our winter did not 
destroy these insects, yet the attention of the gardener in a 
summer or two has entirely relieved my vine from this 
filthy annoyance. 

As we have remarked above that insects are often 
conveyed from one country to another in a very unac- 
countable manner, I shall here mention an emigration of 
small aphides, which was observed in the village of 
Selborne no longer ago than August the ist, 1785. 

At about three o'clock in the afternoon of that day, 
which was very hot, the people of this village were 
surprised by a shower of aphides, or smother-flies, which 
fell in these parts. Those that were walking in the street 
at that juncture found themselves covered with these 
insects, which settled also on the hedges and gardens, 
blackening all the vegetables where they alighted. My 
annuals were discoloured with them, and the stalks of a 
be(l of onions were quite coated over for six days after. 
These armies were then, no doubt, in a state of emigration, 
and shifting their quarters ; and might have come, as far 
as we know, from the great hop-plantations of Kent or 
Sussex, the wind being all that day in the easterly quarter. 
They were observed at the same time in great clouds about 
Farnham, and all along the vale from Farnham to Alton. 1 

1 For various methods by which several insects shift their quarters, 
see Derham's Physico-Theology. 




WHEN I happen to visit a family where gold and silver 
fishes are kept in a glass bowl, I am always pleased with 
the occurrence, because it offers me an opportunity of 
observing the actions and propensities of those beings with 
whom we can be little acquainted in their natural state. 
Not long since I spent a fortnight at the house of a friend 
where there was such a vivary, to which I paid no small 
attention, taking every occasion to remark what passed 
within its narrow limits. It was here that I first observed 
the manner in which fishes die. As soon as the creature 
sickens, the head sinks lower and lower, and it stands as it 
were on its head ; till, getting weaker, and losing all poise, 
the tail turns over, and at last it floats on the surface of the 
water with its belly uppermost. The reason why fishes, 
when dead, swim in that manner is very obvious ; because, 
when the body is no longer balanced by the fins of the 
belly, the broad muscular back preponderates by its own 
gravity, and turns the belly uppermost, as lighter from its 
being a cavity, and because it contains the swimming- 
bladders, which contribute to render it buoyant. Some that 
delight in gold and silver fishes have adopted a notion that 
they need no aliment. True it is that they will subsist for 
a long time without any apparent food but what they can 
collect from pure water frequently changed ; yet they 
must draw some support from animalcula, and other 
nourishment supplied by the water ; because, though they 
seem to eat nothing, yet the consequences of eating often 
drop from them. That they are best pleased with such 
jejune diet may easily be confuted, since if you toss them 
crumbs they will seize them with great readiness, not to 
say greediness : however, bread should be given sparingly, 
lest, turning sour, it corrupt the water. They will also 


feed on the water-plant called lemna (duck's meat), and 
also on small fry. 

When they want to move a little they gently protrude 
themselves with their pinnae pectoraks ; but it is with their 
strong muscular tails only that they and all fishes shoot 
along with such inconceivable rapidity. It has been said 
that the eyes of fishes are immoveable : but these ap- 
parently turn them forward or backward in their sockets 
as their occasions require. They take little notice of a 
lighted candle, though applied close to their heads, but 
flounce and seem much frightened by a sudden stroke of 
the hand against the support whereon the bowl is hung ; 
especially when they have been motionless, and are perhaps 
asleep. As fishes have no eyelids, it is not easy to discern 
when they are sleeping or not, because their eyes are 
always open. 

Nothing can be more amusing than a glass bowl con- 
taining such fishes : the double refractions of the glass and 
water represent them, when moving, in a shifting and 
changeable variety of dimensions, shades, and colours; 
while the two mediums, assisted by the concavo-convex 
shape of the vessel, magnify and distort them vastly ; not 
to mention that the introduction of another element and 
its inhabitants into our parlours engages the fancy in a 
very agreeable manner. 

Gold and silver fishes, though originally natives of 
China and Japan, yet are become so well reconciled to 
our climate as to thrive and multiply very fast in our 
ponds and stews. Linnaeus ranks this species of fish 
under the genus of cyprinus, or carp, and calls it cyprinus 

Some people exhibit this sort of fish in a very fanciful 
way ; for they cause a glass bowl to be blown with a large 
hollow space within, that does not communicate with it. 
In this cavity they put a bird occasionally ; so that you 
may see a goldfinch or a linnet hopping as it were in the 
midst of the water, and the fishes swimming in a circle 
round it. The simple exhibition of the fishes is agreeable 
and pleasant; but in so complicated a way becomes 


whimsical and unnatural, and liable to the objection due 
to him, 

" Qui variare cupit rem prodigialiter unam." 

I am, etc. 



October 10, 1781. 

I THINK I have observed before that much the most con- 
siderable part of the house-martins withdraw from hence 
about the first week in October ; but that some, the latter 
broods I am now convinced, linger on till towards the 
middle of that month : and that at times, once perhaps in 
two or three years, a flight, for one day only, has shown 
itself in the first week of November. 

Having taken notice, in October 1780, that the last 
flight was numerous, amounting perhaps to one hundred 
and fifty ; and that the season was soft and still ; I was 
resolved to pay uncommon attention to these late birds ; 
to find, if possible, where they roosted, and to determine 
the precise time of their retreat. The mode of life of 
these latter hirundines is very favourable to such a design ; 
for they spend the whole day in the sheltered district, 
between me and the Hanger, sailing about in a placid, 
easy manner, and feasting on those insects which love to 
haunt a spot so secure from ruffling winds. As my 
principal object was to discover the place of their roosting, 
I took care to wait on them before they retired to rest, 
and was much pleased to find that, for several evenings 
together, just at a quarter past five in the afternoon, they 
all scudded away in great haste towards the south-east, 
and darted down among the low shrubs above the cottages 
at the end of the hill. This spot in many respects seems 
to be well calculated for their winter residence : for in 


many parts it is as steep as the roof of any house, and 
therefore secure from the annoyances of water ; and it is 
moreover clothed with beechen shrubs, which, being 
stunted and bitten by sheep, make the thickest covert 
imaginable ; and are so entangled as to be impervious to 
the smallest spaniel : besides, it is the nature of under- 
wood beech never to cast its leaf all the winter ; so that, 
with the leaves on the ground and those on the twigs, no 
shelter can be more complete. I watched them on to the 
thirteenth and fourteenth of October, and found their 
evening retreat was exact and uniform ; but after this 
they made no regular appearance. Now and then a 
straggler was seen ; and on the twenty-second of October, 
I observed two in the morning over the village, and with 
them my remarks for the season ended. 

From all these circumstances put together, it is more 
than probable that this lingering flight, at so late a season 
of the year, never departed from the island. Had they 
indulged me that autumn with a November visit, as I much 
desired, I presume that, with proper assistants, I should 
have settled the matter past all doubt ; but though the 
third of November was a sweet day, and in appearance 
exactly suited to my wishes, yet not a martin was to be 
seen ; and so I was forced, reluctantly, to give up the 

I have only to add that were the bushes, which cover 
some acres, and are not my own property, to be grubbed 
and carefully examined, probably those late broods, and 
perhaps the whole aggregate body of the house-martins of 
this district, might be found there, in different secret 
dormitories ; and that, so far from withdrawing into 
warmer climes, it would appear that they never depart 
three hundred yards from the village. 




THEY who write on natural history cannot too frequently 
advert to instinct, that wonderful limited faculty, which, in 
some instances, raises the brute creation as it were above 
reason, and in others leaves them so far below it. Philo- 
sophers have defined instinct to be that secret influence 
by which every species is impelled naturally to pursue, at 
all times, the same way or track, without any teaching 
or example ; whereas reason, without instruction, would 
often vary and do that by many methods which instinct 
effects by one alone. Now this maxim must be taken 
in a qualified sense ; for there are instances in which 
instinct does vary and conform to the circumstances of 
place and convenience. 

It has been remarked that every species of bird has a 
mode of nidification peculiar to itself; so that a school- 
boy would at once pronounce on the sort of nest before 
him. This is the case among fields and woods, and wilds ; 
but, in the villages round London, where mosses and 
gossamer, and cotton from vegetables, are hardly to be 
found, the nest of the chaffinch has not that elegant 
finished appearance, nor is it so beautifully studded with 
lichens, as in a more rural district : and the wren is 
obliged to construct its house with straws and dry grasses, 
which do not give it that rotundity and compactness so 
remarkable in the edifices of that little architect. Again, 
the regular nest of the house-martin is hemispheric ; but 
where a rafter, or a joist, or a cornice, may happen to 
stand in the way, the nest is so contrived as to conform 
to the obstruction, and becomes flat or oval, or com- 

In the following instances instinct is perfectly uniform 
and consistent. There are three creatures, the squirrel, 
the field-mouse, and the bird called the nut-hatch (sitta 


Europaea), which live much on hazel nuts; and yet they 
open them each in a different way. The first, after rasping 
off the small end, splits the shell in two with his long fore- 
teeth, as a man does with his knife ; the second nibbles 
a hole with his teeth, so regular as if drilled with a wimble, 
and yet so small that one would wonder how the kernel 
can be extracted through it ; while the last picks an 
irregular ragged hole with its bill : but as this artist 
has no paws to hold the nut firm while he pierces 
it, like an adroit workman, he fixes it, as it were 
in a vice, in some cleft of a tree, or in some crevice ; 
when, standing over it, he perforates the stubborn shell. 
We have often placed nuts in the chink of a gate-post 
where nut-hatches have been known to haunt, and have 
always found that those birds have readily penetrated them. 
While at work they make a rapping noise that may be 
heard at a considerable distance. 

You that understand both the theory and practical part 
of music may best inform us why harmony or melody 
should so strangely affect some men, as it were by recollec- 
tion, for days after a concert is over. What I mean the 
following passage will most readily explain : 

" Praehabebat porro vocibus humanis, instrumentisque 
harmonicis musicam illam avium : non quod alia quoque 
non delectaretur ; sed quod ex musica humana relinquere- 
tur in animo continens quaedam, attentionemque et 
somnum conturbans agitatio ; dum ascensus, exscensus, 
tenores, ac mutationes illae sonorum, et consonantiarum 
euntque, redeuntque per phantasiam : cum nihil tale 
relinqui possit ex modulationibus avium, quae, quod non 
sunt perinde a nobis imitabiles, non possunt perinde 
internam facultatem commovere." GASSENDUS in Vita 

This curious quotation strikes me much by so well 
representing my own case, and by describing what I have 
so often felt, but never could so well express. When I hear 
fine music I am haunted with passages therefrom night 
and day ; and especially at first waking, which, by their 
importunity, give me more uneasiness than pleasure : 


elegant lessons still tease my imagination, and recur 
irresistibly to my recollection at seasons, and even when 
I am desirous of thinking of more serious matters. 

I am, etc. 



A RARE, and I think a new, little bird frequents my 
garden, which I have great reason to think is the petti- 
chaps : it is common in some parts of the kingdom ; and 
I have received formerly several dead specimens from 
Gibraltar. This bird much resembles the white-throat, 
but has a more white or rather silvery breast and belly ; is 
restless and active, like the willow-wrens, and hops from 
bough to bough, examining every part for food ; it also 
runs up the stems of the crown -imperials, and, putting its 
head into the bells of those flowers, sips the liquor which 
stands in the nectarium of each petal. Sometimes it feeds 
on the ground, like the hedge-sparrow, by hopping about 
on the grass-plots and mown walks. 

One of my neighbours, an intelligent and observing 
man, informs me that, in the beginning of May, and 
about ten minutes before eight o'clock in the evening, 
he discovered a great cluster of house-swallows, thirty at 
least he supposes, perching on a willow that hung over the 
verge of James Knight's upper-pond. His attention was first 
drawn by the twittering of these birds, which sat motionless 
in a row on the bough, with their heads all one way, and, 
by their weight, pressing down the twig so that it nearly 
touched the water. In this situation he watched them till 
he could see no longer. Repeated accounts of this sort, 
spring and fall, induce us greatly to suspect that house- 
swallows have some strong attachment to water, indepen- 
dent of the matter of food ; and, though they may not 
retire into that element, yet they may conceal themselves 


in the banks of pools and rivers during the uncomfortable 
months of winter. 

One of the keepers of Wolmer-forest sent me a pere- 
grine-falcon, which he shot on the verge of that district as 
it was devouring a wood-pigeon. The falco -peregrinus, or 
haggard falcon, is a noble species of hawk seldom seen 
in the southern counties. In winter 1767 one was killed 
in the neighbouring parish of Faringdon, and sent by me 
to Mr. Pennant into North- Wales. 1 Since that time I 
have met with none till now. The specimen measured 
above was in fine preservation, and not injured by the 
shot : it measured forty-two inches from wing to wing, 
and twenty-one from beak to tail, and weighed two 
pounds and an half standing weight. This species is very 
robust, and wonderfully formed for rapine : its breast was 
plump and muscular ; its thighs long, thick, and brawny ; 
and its legs remarkably short and well set : the feet were 
armed with most formidable, sharp, long talons : the 
eyelids and cere of the bill were yellow ; but the irides of 
the eyes dusky ; the beak was thick and hooked, and of a 
dark colour, and had a jagged process near the end of the 
upper mandible on each side : its tail, or train, was short 
in proportion to the bulk of its body : yet the wings, 
when closed, did not extend to the end of the train. 
From its large and fair proportions it might be supposed 
to have been a female ; but I was not permitted to cut 
open the specimen. For one of the birds of prey, which 
are usually lean, this was in high case : in its craw were 
many barley-corns, which probably came from the crop 
of the wood-pigeon, on which it was feeding when shot : 
for voracious birds do not eat grain ; but, when devouring 
their quarry, with undistinguishing vehemence swallow 
bones and feathers, and all matters, indiscriminately. This 
falcon was probably driven from the mountains of North 
Wales or Scotland, where they are known to breed, by 
rigorous weather and deep snows that had lately fallen. 

I am, etc. 

1 See my tenth and eleventh letter to that gentleman. 




MY near neighbour, a young gentleman in the service of 
the East-India Company, has brought home a dog and a 
bitch of the Chinese breed from Canton ; such as are 
fattened in that country for the purpose of being eaten : 
they are about the size of a moderate spaniel ; of a pale 
yellow colour, with coarse bristling hairs on their backs; 
sharp upright ears, and peaked heads, which give them a 
very fox-like appearance. Their hind legs are unusually 
straight, without any bend at the hock or ham, to such a 
degree as to give them an awkward gait when they trot. 
When they are in motion their tails are curved high over 
their backs like those of some hounds, and have a bare 
place each on the outside from the tip midway, that does 
not seem to be matter of accident, but somewhat singular. 
Their eyes are jet-black, small, and piercing ; the insides 
of their lips and mouths of the same colour, and their 
tongues blue. The bitch has a dew claw on each hind 
leg ; the dog has none. When taken out into a field the 
bitch showed some disposition for hunting, and dwelt on 
the scent of a covey of partridges till she sprung them, 
giving her tongue all the time. The dogs in South 
America are dumb ; but these bark much in a short thick 
manner, like foxes ; and have a surly, savage demeanour 
like their ancestors, which are not domesticated, but bred 
up in sties, where they are fed for the table with rice- 
meal and other farinaceous food. These dogs, having 
been taken on board as soon as weaned, could not learn 
much from their dam ; yet they did not relish flesh when 
they came to England. In the islands of the pacific ocean 
the dogs are bred up on vegetables, and would not eat 
flesh when offered them by our circumnavigators. 

We believe that all dogs, in a state of nature, have 
sharp, upright fox-like ears ; and that hanging ears, which 


are esteemed so graceful, are the effect of choice breeding 
and cultivation. Thus, in the Travels of Ysbrandt Ides 
from Muscovy to China, the dogs which draw the Tartars 
on snow-sledges near the river Oby are engraved with 
prick-ears, like those from Canton. The Kamschatdales 
also train the same sort of sharp-eared peaked-nosed dogs 
to draw their sledges ; as may be seen in an elegant print 
engraved for Captain Cook's last voyage round the world. 

Now we are upon the subject of dogs it may not be 
impertinent to add, that spaniels, as all sportsmen know, 
though they hunt partridges and pheasants as it were 
by instinct, and with much delight and alacrity, yet will 
hardly touch their bones when offered as food ; nor will a 
mongrel dog of my own, though he is remarkable for 
finding that sort of game. But, when we came to offer 
the bones of partridges to the two Chinese dogs, they 
devoured them with much greediness, and licked the 
platter clean. 

No sporting dogs will flush woodcocks till inured to the 
scent and trained to the sport, which they then pursue 
with vehemence and transport ; but then they will not 
touch their bones, but turn from them with abhorrence, 
even when they are hungry. 

Now, that dogs should not be fond of the bones of such 
birds as they are not disposed to hunt is no wonder ; but 
why they reject and do not care to eat their natural game 
is not so easily accounted for, since the end of hunting 
seems to be, that the chase pursued should be eaten. 
Dogs again will not devour the more rancid water-fowls, 
nor indeed the bones of any wild-fowls ; nor will they 
touch the foetid bodies of birds that feed on offal and 
garbage : and indeed there may be somewhat of pro- 
vidential instinct in this circumstance of dislike ; for 
vultures, 1 and kites, and ravens, and crows, etc. were 
intended to be messmates with dogs 2 over their carrion ; 

1 Hasselquist, in his Travels to the Levant, observes that the dogs and 
vultures at Grand Cairo maintain such a friendly intercourse as to bring 
up their young together in the same place. 

2 The Chinese word for a dog to an European ear sounds like quihloh. 


and seem to be appointed by Nature as fellow-scavengers 
to remove all cadaverous nuisances from the face of the 

I am, etc. 



THE fossil wood buried in the bogs of Wolmer-forest is 
not yet all exhausted ; for the peat-cutters now and then 
stumble upon a log. I have just seen a piece which was 
sent by a labourer of Oakhanger to a carpenter of this 
village ; this was the but-end of a small oak, about five 
feet long, and about five inches in diameter. It had 
apparently been severed from the ground by an axe, was 
very ponderous, and as black as ebony. Upon asking the 
carpenter for what purpose he had procured it ; he told 
me that it was to be sent to his brother, a joiner at 
Farnham, who was to make use of it in cabinet work, 
by inlaying it along with whiter woods. 

Those that are much abroad on evenings after it is dark, 
in spring and summer, frequently hear a nocturnal bird 
passing by on the wing, and repeating often a short quick 
note. This bird I have remarked myself, but never could 
make out till lately. I am assured now that it is the 
Stone-curlew (charadrius oedicnemus}. Some of them pass 
over or near my house almost every evening after it is 
dark, from the uplands of the hill and North field, away 
down towards Dorton ; where, among the streams and 
meadows, they find a greater plenty of food. Birds that 
fly by night are obliged to be noisy; their notes often 
repeated become signals or watchwards to keep them 
together, that they may not stray or lose each the other 
in the dark. 

The evening proceedings and manoeuvres of the rooks 
are curious and amusing in the autumn. Just before dusk 
they return in long strings from the foraging of the day, 


and rendezvous by thousands over Selborne-down, where 
they wheel round in the air, and sport and dive in a 
playful manner, all the while exerting their voices, and 
making a loud cawing, which, being blended and softened 
by the distance that we at the village are below them, 
becomes a confused noise or chiding ; or rather a pleasing 
murmur, very engaging to the imagination, and not unlike 
the cry of a pack of hounds in hollow, echoing woods, or 
the rushing of the wind in tall trees, or the tumbling of 
the tide upon a pebbly shore. When this ceremony is 
over, with the last gleam of day, they retire for the night 
to the deep beechen woods of Tisted and Ropley. We 
remember a little girl who, as she was going to bed, used 
to remark on such an occurrence, in the true spirit of 
physico-theology, that the rooks were saying their prayers; 
and yet this child was much too young to be aware that 
the scriptures have said of the Deity that "he feedeth 
the ravens who call upon him." 

I am, etc. 



IN reading Dr. Huxham's Observations de Ae're, etc., 
written at Plymouth, I find by those curious and accurate 
remarks, which contain an account of the weather from the 
year 1727 to the year 1748, inclusive, that though there 
is frequent rain in that district of Devonshire, yet the 
quantity falling is not great ; and that some years it has 
been very small: for in 1731 the rain measured only 
I7 inch . 266 thou . and in 1741, 20 354; and again in 
1743 only 20 908. Places near the sea have frequent 
scuds, that keep the atmosphere moist, yet do not reach 
far up into the country; making thus the maritime 
situations appear wet, when the rain is not considerable. 
In the wettest years at Plymouth the Doctor measured 


only once 36; and again once, viz. 1734, 37 IJ 4 : a 
quantity of rain that has twice been exceeded at Selborne 
in the short period of my observations. Dr. Huxham 
remarks, that frequent small rains keep the air moist; 
while heavy ones render it more dry, by beating down the 
vapours. He is also of opinion that the dingy, smoky 
appearance of the sky, in very dry seasons, arises from the 
want of moisture sufficient to let the light through, and 
render the atmosphere transparent; because he had 
observed several bodies more diaphanous when wet than 
dry ; and did never recollect that the air had that look in 
rainy seasons. 

My friend, who lives just beyond the top of the down, 
brought his three swivel guns to try them in my outlet, 
with their muzzles towards the Hanger, supposing that 
the report would have had a great effect ; but the experi- 
ment did not answer his expectation. He then removed 
them to the Alcove on the Hanger; when the sound, 
rushing along the Lythe and Comb-wood, was very grand: 
but it was at the Hermitage that the echoes and reper- 
cussions delighted the hearers ; not only filling the Lythe 
with the roar, as if all the beeches were tearing up by the 
roots ; but, turning to the left, they pervaded the vale 
above Combwood-ponds ; and after a pause seemed to 
take up the crash again, and to extend round Harteley- 
hangers, and to die away at last among the coppices and 
coverts of Ward le ham. It has been remarked before 
that this district is an anathoth, a place of responses or 
echoes, and therefore proper for such experiments : we 
may farther add that the pauses in echoes, when they cease 
and yet are taken up again, like the pauses in music, sur- 
prise the hearers, and have a fine effect on the imagination. 

The gentleman above mentioned has just fixed a 
barometer in his parlour at Newton Valence. The tube 
was first filled here (at Selborne) twice with care, when the 
mercury agreed and stood exactly with my own ; but, 
being filled again twice at Newton, the mercury stood, on 
account of the great elevation of that house, three-tenths 
of an inch lower than the barometers at this village, and 


so continues to do, be the weight of the atmosphere what 
it may. The plate of the barometer at Newton is figured 
as low as 27 ; because in stormy weather the mercury there 
will sometimes descend below 28. We have supposed 
Newton-house to stand two hundred feet higher than this 
house : but if the rule holds good, which says that mercury 
in a barometer sinks one-tenth of an inch for every 
hundred feet elevation, then the Newton barometer, by 
standing three-tenths lower than that of Selborne, proves 
that Newton-house must be three hundred feet higher 
than that in which I am writing, instead of two hundred. 

It may not be impertinent to add, that the barometers 
at Selborne stand three-tenths of an inch lower than the 
barometers at South Lambeth ; whence we may conclude 
that the former place is about three hundred feet higher 
than the latter ; and with good reason, because the streams 
that rise with us run into the Thames at Weybridge, and 
so to London. Of course therefore there must be lower 
ground all the way from Selborne to South Lambeth ; the 
distance between which, all the windings and indentings of 
the streams considered, cannot be less than an hundred 

I am, etc. 



SINCE the weather of a district is undoubtedly part of its 
natural history, I shall make no further apology for the 
four following letters, which will contain many particulars 
concerning some of the great frosts and a few respecting 
some very hot summers, that have distinguished themselves 
from the rest during the course of my observations. 

As the frost in January 1768 was, for the small time 
it lasted, the most severe that we had then known for 
many years, and was remarkably injurious to ever-greens, 
some account of its rigour, and reason of its ravages, may 


be useful, and not unacceptable to persons that delight in 
planting and ornamenting ; and may particularly become 
a work that professes never to lose sight of utility. 

For the last two or three days of the former year there 
were considerable falls of snow, which lay deep and 
uniform on the ground without any drifting, wrapping up 
the more humble vegetation in perfect security. From 
the first day to the fifth of the new year more snow 
succeeded; but from that day the air became entirely 
clear ; and the heat of the sun about noon had a con- 
siderable influence in sheltered situations. 

It was in such an aspect that the snow on the author's 
ever-greens was melted every day, and frozen intensely 
every night ; so that the laurustines, bays, laurels, and 
arbutuses looked, in three or four days, as if they had been 
burnt in the fire ; while a neighbour's plantation of the 
same kind, in a high cold situation, where the snow was 
never melted at all, remained uninjured. 

From hence I would infer that it is the repeated melting 
and freezing of the snow that is so fatal to vegetation, 
rather than the severity of the cold. Therefore it highly 
behoves every planter, who wishes to escape the cruel 
mortification of losing in a few days the labour and hopes 
of years, to bestir himself on such emergencies ; and, if his 
plantations are small, to avail himself of mats, cloths, 
pease-haum, straw, reeds, or any such covering, for a short 
time ; or, if his shrubberies are extensive, to see that his 
people go about with prongs and forks, and carefully dis- 
lodge the snow from the boughs, since the naked foliage 
will shift much better for itself, than where the snow is 
partly melted and frozen again. 

It may perhaps appear at first like a paradox ; but doubt- 
less the more tender trees and shrubs should never be 
planted in hot aspects ; not only for the reason assigned 
above, but also because, thus circumstanced, they are dis- 
posed to shoot earlier in the spring, and grow on later in 
the autumn than they would otherwise do, and so are 
sufferers by lagging or early frosts. For this reason also 
plants from Siberia will hardly endure our climate : because, 



on the very first advances of spring, they shoot away, and 
so are cut off by the severe nights of March or April. 

Dr. Fothergill and others have experienced the same 
inconvenience with respect to the more tender shrubs from 
North-America ; which they therefore plant under north- 
walls. There should also perhaps be a wall to the east to 
defend them from the piercing blasts from that quarter. 

This observation might without any impropriety be 
carried into animal life ; for discerning bee-masters now find 
that their hives should not in the winter be exposed to the 
hot sun, because such unseasonable warmth awakens the 
inhabitants too early from their slumbers ; and, by putting 
their juices into motion too soon,- subjects them afterwards 
to inconveniences when rigorous weather returns. 

The coincidents attending this short but intense frost 
were, that the horses fell sick with an epidemic distemper, 
which injured the winds of many, and killed some ; that 
colds and coughs were general among the human species ; 
that it froze under people's beds for several nights ; that 
meat was so hard frozen that it could not be spitted, and 
could not be secured but in cellars ; that several redwings 
and thrushes were killed by the frost ; and that the large 
titmouse continued to pull straws lengthwise from the 
eaves of thatched houses and barns in a most adroit 
manner, for a purpose that has been explained already. 1 

On the 3d of January, Benjamin Martin's thermometer 
within doors, in a close parlour where there was no fire, fell 
in the night to 20, and on the 4th to 18, and the jth to 
i7i, a degree of cold which the owner never since saw in 
the same situation ; and he regrets much that he was not 
able at that juncture to attend his instrument abroad. All 
this time the wind continued north and north-east ; and 
yet on the eighth roost-cocks, which had been silent, began 
to sound their clarions, and crows to clamour, as prognostic 
of milder weather ; and, moreover, moles began to heave 
and work, and a manifest thaw took place. From the 
latter circumstance we may conclude that thaws often 
originate under ground from warm vapours which arise ; 
1 See Letter xli. to Mr. Pennant. 


else how should subterraneous animals receive such early 
intimations of their approach ? Moreover, we have often 
observed that cold seems to descend from above ; for, 
when a thermometer hangs abroad in a frosty night, the 
intervention of a cloud shall immediately raise the mercury 
ten degrees; and a clear sky shall again compel it to 
descend to its former gage. 

And here it may be proper to observe, on what has been 
said above, that though frosts advance to their utmost 
severity by somewhat of a regular gradation, yet thaws do 
not usually come on by as regular a declension of cold ; 
but often take place immediately from intense freezing ; as 
men in sickness often mend at once from a paroxysm. 

To the great credit of Portugal laurels and American 
junipers, be it remembered that they remained untouched 
amidst the general havoc : hence men should learn to 
ornament chiefly with such trees as are able to withstand 
accidental severities, and not subject themselves to the 
vexation of a loss which may befall them once perhaps in 
ten years, yet may hardly be recovered through the whole 
course of their lives. 

As it appeared afterwards the ilexes were much injured, 
the cypresses were half destroyed, the arbutuses lingered on, 
but never recovered ; and the bays, laurustines, and laurels, 
were killed to the ground ; and the very wild hollies, in hot 
aspects, were so much affected that they cast all their leaves. 

By the I4th of January the snow was entirely gone; the 
turnips emerged not damaged at all, save in sunny places ; 
the wheat looked delicately, and the garden plants were 
well preserved ; for snow is the most kindly mantle that 
infant vegetation can be wrapped in : were it not for that 
friendly meteor no vegetable life could exist at all in 
northerly regions. Yet in Sweden the earth in April is not 
divested of snow for more than a fortnight before the face 
of the country is covered with flowers. 




THERE were some circumstances attending the remarkable 
frost in January 1776 so singular and striking, that a short 
detail of them may not be unacceptable. 

The most certain way to be exact will be to copy the 
passages from my journal, which were taken from time to 
time as things occurred. But it may be proper previously 
to remark that the first week in January was uncommonly 
wet, and drowned with vast rains from every quarter : 
from whence may be inferred, as there is great reason to 
believe is the case, that intense frosts seldom take place till 
the earth is perfectly glutted and chilled with water ; l and 
hence dry autumns are seldom followed by rigorous 

January 7th. Snow driving all the day, which was 
followed by frost, sleet, and some snow, till the I2th, 
when a prodigious mass overwhelmed all the works of 
men, drifting over the tops of the gates and filling the 
hollow lanes. 

On the 1 4th the writer was obliged to be much abroad ; 
and thinks he never before or since has encountered such 
rugged Siberian weather. Many of the narrow roads were 
now filled above the tops of the hedges ; through which 
the snow was driven into most romantic and grotesque 
shapes, so striking to the imagination as not to be seen 
without wonder and pleasure. The poultry dared not to 
stir out of their roosting-places ; for cocks and hens are so 
dazzled and confounded by the glare of snow that they 
would soon perish without assistance. The hares also lay 

J The autumn preceding January 1768 was very wet, and particularly 
the month of September, during which there fell at Lyndon, in the 
county of Rutland, six inches and an half of rain. And the terrible long 
frost of 1739-40 set in after a rainy season, and when the springs were 
very high. 


sullenly in their seats, and would not move till compelled 
by hunger ; being conscious, poor animals, that the drifts 
and heaps treacherously betray their footsteps, and prove 
fatal to numbers of them. 

From the I4th the snow continued to increase, and 
began to stop the road waggons and coaches, which could 
no longer keep on their regular stages ; and especially on 
the western roads, where the fall appears to have been 
deeper than in the south. The company at Bath, that 
wanted to attend the Queen's birth-day, were strangely 
incommoded : many carriages of persons, who got in their 
way to town from Bath as far as Marlborough, after strange 
embarrassments, here met with a ne plus ultra. The ladies 
fretted, and offered large rewards to labourers, if they 
would shovel them a track to London : but the relentless 
heaps of snow were too bulky to be removed ; and so the 
1 8th passed over, leaving the company in very uncomfort- 
able circumstances at the Castle and other inns. 

On the 2Oth the sun shone out for the first time since 
the frost began ; a circumstance that has been remarked 
before much in favour of vegetation. All this time the 
cold was not very intense, for the thermometer stood at 
29, 28, 25, and thereabout; but on the 2ist it descended 
to 20. The birds now began to be in a very pitiable and 
starving condition. Tamed by the season, sky-larks settled 
in the streets of towns, because they saw the ground was 
bare ; rooks frequented dunghills close to houses ; and 
crows watched horses as they passed, and greedily devoured 
what dropped from them ; hares now came into men's 
gardens, and, scraping away the snow, devoured such plants 
as they could find. 

On the 22d the author had occasion to go to London 
through a sort of Laplandian-scene, very wild and gro- 
tesque indeed. But the metropolis itself exhibited a still 
more singular appearance than the country ; for, being 
bedded deep in snow, the pavement of the streets could 
not be touched by the wheels or the horses' feet, so that 
the carriages ran about without the least noise. Such an 
exemption from din and clatter was strange, but not 


pleasant ; it seemed to convey an uncomfortable idea of 

" ipsa silentia terrent." 

On the 27th much snow fell all day, and in the evening 
the frost became very intense. At South Lambeth, for the 
four following nights, the thermometer fell to 1 1, 7, 6, 6 ; 
and at Selborne to 7, 6, 10; and on the 3ist of January, 
just before sunrise, with rime on the trees and on the tube 
of the glass, the quicksilver sunk exactly to zero, being 32 
degrees below the freezing point : but by eleven in the 
morning, though in the shade, it sprung up to i6% 1 a 
most unusual degree of cold this for the south of England ! 
During these four nights the cold was so penetrating that 
it occasioned ice in warm chambers and under beds ; and 
in the day the wind was so keen that persons of robust 
constitutions could scarcely endure to face it. The Thames 
was at once so frozen over both above and below bridge 
that crowds ran about on the ice. The streets were now 
strangely incumbered with snow, which crumbled and trod 
dusty ; and, turning grey, resembled bay-salt ; what had 
fallen on the roofs was so perfectly dry that, from first to 
last, it lay twenty-six days on the houses in the city ; a 
longer time than had been remembered by the oldest 
housekeepers living. According to all appearances we 
might now have expected the continuance of this rigorous 
weather for weeks to come, since every night increased in 
severity ; but behold, without any apparent cause, on the 
ist of February a thaw took place, and some rain followed 
before night ; making good the observation above, that 
frosts often go off as it were at once, without any gradual 
declension of cold. On the second of February the thaw 
persisted; and on the 3d swarms of little insects were 
frisking and sporting in a court-yard at South Lambeth, as 
if they had felt no frost. Why the juices in the small 

1 At Selborne the cold was greater than at any other place that the 
author could hear of with certainty : though some reported at the time 
that at a village in Kent the thermometer fell two degrees below zero, viz. 
34 degrees below the freezing point. 

The thermometer used at Selborne was graduated by Benjamin Martin, 


bodies and smaller limbs of such minute beings are not 
frozen is a matter of curious inquiry. 

Severe frosts seem to be partial, or to run in currents ; 
for, at the same juncture, as the author was informed by 
accurate correspondents, at Lyndon in the county of 
Rutland, the thermometer stood at 19: at Blackburn, in 
Lancashire, at 19: and at Manchester at 21, 20, and 18. 
Thus does some unknown circumstance strangely over- 
balance latitude, and render the cold sometimes much 
greater in the southern than in the northern parts of this 

The consequences of this severity were, that in Hamp- 
shire, at the melting of the snow, the wheat looked well, 
and the turnips came forth little injured. The laurels and 
laurustines were somewhat damaged, but only in hot 
aspects. No evergreens were quite destroyed ; and not 
half the damage sustained that befell in January 1768. 
Those laurels that were a little scorched on the south-sides 
were perfectly untouched on their north-sides. The care 
taken to shake the snow day by day from the branches 
seemed greatly to avail the author's evergreens. A neigh- 
bour's laurel-hedge, in a high situation, and facing to the 
north, was perfectly green and vigorous ; and the Portugal 
laurels remained unhurt. 

As to the birds, the thrushes and blackbirds were mostly 
destroyed ; and the partridges, by the weather and poachers, 
were so thinned that few remained to breed the following 


As the frost in December 1784 was very extraordinary, 
you, I trust, will not be displeased to hear the particulars ; 
and especially when I promise to say no more about the 
severities of winter after I have finished this letter. 


The first week in December was very wet, with the 
barometer very low. On the yth, with the barometer at 
28 five tenths, came on a vast snow, which continued all 
that day and the next, and most part of the following 
night ; so that by the morning of the 9th the works of 
men were quite overwhelmed, the lanes filled so as to be 
impassable, and the ground covered twelve or fifteen inches 
without any drifting. In the evening of the 9th the air 
began to be so very sharp that we thought it would be 
curious to attend to the motions of a thermometer : we 
therefore hung out two ; one made by Martin and one by 
Dolland, which soon began to show us what we were to 
expect ; for, by ten o'clock, they fell to 2 1 , and at eleven 
to 4, when we went to bed. On the loth, in the morning, 
the quicksilver of Dolland's glass was down to half a 
degree below zero ; and that of Martin's, which was 
absurdly graduated only to four degrees above zero, sunk 
quite into the brass guard of the ball ; so that when the 
weather became most interesting this was useless. On the 
loth, at eleven at night, though the air was perfectly still, 
Dolland's glass went down to one degree below zero! 
This strange severity of the weather made me very desirous 
to know what degree of cold there might be in such an 
exalted and near situation as Newton. We had therefore, 

on the morning of the loth, written to Mr. , and 

entreated him to hang out his thermometer, made by 
Adams ; and to pay some attention to it morning and 
evening ; expecting wonderful phaenomena, in so elevated a 
region, at two hundred feet or more above my house. 
But, behold ! on the loth, at eleven at night, it was down 
only to 17, and the next morning at 22, when mine was 
at ten. We were so disturbed at this unexpected reverse 
of comparative local cold, that we sent one of my glasses 

up, thinking that of Mr. must, some how, be wrongly 

constructed. But, when the instruments came to be con- 
fronted, they went exactly together : so that, for one night 
at least, the cold at Newton was 1 8 degrees less than at 
Selborne ; and, through the whole frost, I o or 12 degrees ; 
and indeed, when we came to observe consequences, we 


could readily credit this ; for all my laurustines, bays, ilexes, 
arbutuses, cypresses, and even my Portugal laurels, 1 and 
(which occasions more regret) my fine sloping laurel hedge, 
were scorched up ; while, at Newton, the same trees have 
not lost a leaf! 

We had steady frost on to the 25th, when the ther- 
mometer in the morning was down to TO with us, and at 
Newton only to 21. Strong frost continued till the 3ist, 
when some tendency to thaw was observed ; and, by 
January the 3d, 1785, the thaw was confirmed, and some 
rain fell. 

A circumstance that I must not omit, because it was new 
to us, is, that on Friday, December the loth, being bright 
sun-shine, the air was full of icy spiculae, floating in all 
directions, like atoms in a sun-beam let into a dark room. 
We thought them at first particles of the rime falling from 
my tall hedges ; but were soon convinced to the contrary, 
by making our observations in open places where no rime 
could reach us. Were they watery particles of the air 
frozen as they floated ; or were they evaporations from the 
snow frozen as they mounted ? 

We were much obliged to the thermometers for the early 
information they gave us ; and hurried our apples, pears, 
onions, potatoes, etc. into the cellar, and warm closets; 
while those who had not, or neglected such warnings, lost 
all their stores of roots and fruits, and had their very bread 
and cheese frozen. 

I must not omit to tell you that, during those two 
Siberian days, my parlour-cat was so electric, that had a 
person stroked her, and been properly insulated, the shock 
might have been given to a whole circle of people. 

I forgot to mention before, that, during the two severe 
days, two men, who were tracing hares in the snow, had 
their feet frozen ; and two men, who were much better 

1 Mr. Miller, in his Gardener's Dictionary, says positively that the 
Portugal laurels remained untouched in the remarkable frost of 1739-40. 
So that either that accurate observer was much mistaken, or else the frost 
of December 1784 was much more severe and destructive than that in 
the year above mentioned. 


employed, had their fingers so affected by the frost, while 
they were thrashing in a barn, that a mortification followed, 
from which they did not recover for many weeks. 

This frost killed all the furze and most of the ivy, and 
in many places stripped the hollies of all their leaves. It 
came at a very early time of the year, before old November 
ended ; and yet it may be allowed from its effects to have 
exceeded any since 1739-40. 



As the effects of heat are seldom very remarkable in the 
northerly climate of England, where the summers are often 
so defective in warmth and sun-shine as not to ripen the 
fruits of the earth so well as might be wished, I shall be 
more concise in my account of the severity of a summer 
season, and so make a little amends for the prolix account 
of the degrees of cold, and the inconveniences that we 
suffered from late rigorous winters. 

The summers of 1781 and 1783 were unusually hot and 
dry ; to them therefore I shall turn back in my journals, 
without recurring to any more distant period. In the 
former of these years my peach and nectarine-trees suffered 
so much from the heat that the rind on the bodies was 
scalded and came off; since which the trees have been in a 
decaying state. This may prove a hint to assiduous 
gardeners to fence and shelter their wall-trees with mats 
or boards, as they may easily do, because such annoyance 
is seldom of long continuance. During that summer also, 
I observed that my apples were coddled, as it were, on the 
trees ; so that they had no quickness of flavour, and would 
not keep in the winter. This circumstance put me in mind 
of what I have heard travellers assert, that they never ate 
a good apple or apricot in the south of Europe, where 


the heats were so great as to render the juices vapid and 

The great pests of a garden are wasps, which destroy all 
the finer fruits just as they are coming into perfection. In 
1781 we had none; in 1783 there were myriads; which 
would have devoured all the produce of my garden, had not 
we set the boys to take the nests, and caught thousands 
with hazel twigs tipped with bird-lime : we have since 
employed the boys to take and destroy the large breeding 
wasps in the spring. Such expedients have a great effect 
on these marauders, and will keep them under. Though 
wasps do not abound but in hot summers, yet they do not 
prevail in every hot summer, as I have instanced in the two 
years above mentioned. 

In the sultry season of 1 783 honey-dews were so frequent 
as to deface and destroy the beauties of my garden. My 
honey-suckles, which were one week the most sweet and 
lovely objects that the eye could behold, became the next 
the most loathsome ; being enveloped in a viscous sub- 
stance, and loaded with black aphides, or smother-flies. 
The occasion of this clammy appearance seems to be this, 
that in hot weather the effluvia of flowers in fields and 
meadows and gardens are drawn up in the day by a brisk 
evaporation, and then in the night fall down again with the 
dews, in which they are entangled ; that the air is strongly 
scented, and therefore impregnated with the particles of 
flowers in summer weather, our senses will inform us ; and 
that this clammy sweet substance is of the vegetable kind 
we may learn from bees, to whom it is very grateful : and 
we may be assured that it falls in the night, because it is 
always seen first in warm still mornings. 

On chalky and sandy soils, and in the hot villages about 
London, the thermometer has been often observed to mount 
as high as 83 or 84 ; but with us, in this hilly and woody 
district, I have hardly ever seen it exceed 80 ; nor does it 
often arrive at that pitch. The reason, I conclude, is, that 
our dense clayey soil, so much shaded by trees, is not so 
easily heated through as those above-mentioned : and, 
besides, our mountains cause currents of air and breezes ; 


and the vast effluvia from our woodlands temper and 
moderate our heats. 



THE summer of the year 1783 was an amazing and 
portentous one, and full of horrible phaenomena ; for, 
besides the alarming meteors and tremendous thunder- 
storms that affrighted and distressed the different counties 
of this kingdom, the peculiar haze, or smokey fog, that 
prevailed for many weeks in this island, and in every part 
of Europe, and even beyond its limits, was a most extra- 
ordinary appearance, unlike anything known within the 
memory of man. By my journal I find that I had noticed 
this strange occurrence from June 23 to July 20 inclusive, 
during which period the wind varied to every quarter 
without making any alteration in the air. The sun, at 
noon, looked as blank as a clouded moon, and shed a 
rust-coloured ferruginous light on the ground, and floors 
of rooms ; but was particularly lurid and blood-coloured at 
rising and setting. All the time the heat was so intense 
that butchers' meat could hardly be eaten on the day after 
it was killed; and the flies swarmed so in the lanes and 
hedges that they rendered the horses half frantic, and 
riding irksome. The country people began to look with 
a superstitious awe, at the red, louring aspect of the sun ; 
and indeed there was reason for the most enlightened 
person to be apprehensive ; for, all the while, Calabria and 
part of the isle of Sicily, were torn and convulsed with 
earthquakes ; and about that juncture a volcano sprung 
out of the sea on the coast of Norway. On this occasion 
Milton's noble simile of the sun, in his first book of 
Paradise Lost, frequently occurred to my mind ; and it is 
indeed particularly applicable, because, towards the end, it 


alludes to a superstitious kind of dread, with which the 
minds of men are always impressed by such strange and 
unusual phaenomena. 

" As when the sun, new risen, 

Looks through the horizontal, misty air, 
Shorn of his beams ; or from behind the moon, 
In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds 
On half the nations, and with fear of change 
Perplexes monarchs. " 



WE are very seldom annoyed with thunder-storms ; and it 
is no less remarkable than true, that those which arise in 
the south have hardly been known to reach this village ; 
for before they get over us, they take a direction to the 
east or to the west, or sometimes divide into two, and go 
in part to one of those quarters, and in part to the other ; 
as was truly the case in summer 1783, when though the 
country round was continually harassed with tempests, and 
often from the south, yet we escaped them all ; as appears 
by my journal of that summer. The only way that I can 
at all account for this fact for such it is is that, on that 
quarter, between us and the sea, there are continual moun- 
tains, hill behind hill, such as Nore-hill, the Barnet, Butser- 
hill, and Ports-down, which somehow divert the storms, and 
give them a different direction. High promontories, and 
elevated grounds, have always been observed to attract 
clouds and disarm them of their mischievous contents, which 
are discharged into the trees and summits as soon as they 
come in contact with those turbulent meteors; while the 
humble vales escape, because they are so far beneath them. 
But, when I say I do not remember a thunder-storm 
from the south, I do not mean that we never have suffered 
from thunder-storms at all; for on June 5th, 1784, the 


thermometer in- the morning being at 64, and at noon 
at 70, the barometer at 29 six-tenths one-half, and 
the wind north, I observed a blue mist, smelling strongly 
of sulphur, hanging along our sloping woods, and seem- 
ing to indicate that thunder was at hand. I was called 
in about two in the afternoon, and so missed seeing the 
gathering of the clouds in the north ; which they who 
were abroad assured me had something uncommon in its 
appearance. At about a quarter after two the storm began 
in the parish of Hartley, moving slowly from north to 
south ; and from thence it came over Norton-farm, and so 
to Grange-farm, both in this parish. It began with vast 
drops of rain, which were soon succeeded by round hail, 
and then by convex pieces of ice, which measured three 
inches in girth. Had it been as extensive as it was violent, 
and of any continuance (for it was very short), it must 
have ravaged all the neighbourhood. In the parish of 
Hartley it did some damage to one farm ; but Norton, 
which lay in the centre of the storm, was greatly injured ; 
as was Grange, which lay next to it. It did but just reach 
to the middle of the village, where the hail broke my 
north windows, and all my garden-lights and hand-glasses, 
and many of my neighbours' windows. The extent of the 
storm was about two miles in length and one in breadth. 
We were just sitting down to dinner; but were soon 
diverted from our repast by the clattering of tiles 
and the jingling of glass. There fell at the same time 
prodigious torrents of rain on the farms above-mentioned, 
which occasioned a flood as violent as it was sudden ; doing 
great damage to the meadows and fallows, by deluging the 
one and washing away the soil of the other. The hollow 
lane towards Alton was so torn and disordered as not to be 
passable till mended, rocks being removed that weighed 
200 weight. Those that saw the effect which the great 
hail had on ponds and pools say that the dashing of 
the water made an extraordinary appearance, the froth and 
spray standing up in the air three feet above the surface. 
The rushing and roaring of the hail, as it approached, was 
truly tremendous. 


Though the clouds at South Lambeth, near London, 
were at that juncture thin and light, and no storm was 
in sight, nor within hearing, yet the air was strongly 
electric ; for the bells of an electric machine at that place 
rang repeatedly, and fierce sparks were discharged. 

When I first took the present work in hand I proposed 
to have added an Annus Historico-naturalis, or the Natural 
History of the Twelve Months of the Year ; which would 
have comprised many incidents and occurrences that have 
not fallen in my way to be mentioned in my series of 
letters; but, as Mr. Aikin of Warrington has lately 
published somewhat of this sort, and as the length of 
my correspondence has sufficiently put your patience to the 
test, I shall here take a respectful leave of you and natural 
history together ; 

And am, 

With all due deference and regard, 
Your most obliged, 

And most humble servant, 


Selborne, June 25, 1787. 




IT is reasonable to suppose that in remote ages this woody 
and mountainous district was inhabited only by bears and 
wolves. Whether the Britons ever thought it worthy 
their attention, is not in our power to determine; but 
we may safely conclude, from circumstances, that it was 
not unknown to the Romans. Old people remember 
to have heard their fathers and grandfathers say that, 
in dry summers and in windy weather, pieces of money 
were sometimes found round the verge of Wolmer- 
pond ; and tradition had inspired the foresters with a 
notion that the bottom of that lake contained great stores 
of treasure. During the spring and summer of 1740 
there was little rain ; and the following summer also, 1741, 
was so uncommonly dry, that many springs and ponds 
failed, and this lake in particular whose bed became as 
dusty as the surrounding heaths and wastes. This favour- 
able juncture induced some of the forest-cottagers to begin 
a search, which was attended with such success, that 
all the labourers in the neighbourhood flocked to the 
spot, and with spades and hoes turned up great part of 
that large area. Instead of pots of coins, as they expected, 
they found great heaps, the one lying on the other, as 
if shot out of a bag ; many of which were in good pre- 


servation. Silver and gold these inquirers expected to 
find ; but their discoveries consisted solely of many 
hundreds of Roman copper-coins, and some medallions 
all of the lower empire. There was not much virtu 
stirring at that time in this neighbourhood ; however, 
some of the gentry and clergy around bought what pleased 
them best ; and some dozens fell to the share of the 

The owners at first held their commodity at an high 
price ; but, finding that they were not likely to meet with 
dealers at such a rate, they soon lowered their terms, and 
sold the fairest as they could. The coins that were re- 
jected became current, and passed for farthings at the 
petty shops. Of those that we saw, the greater part were 
of Marcus Aurelius, and the Empress Faustina, his wife, 
the father and mother of Commodus. Some of Faustina 
were in high relief, and exhibited a very agreeable set 
of features, which probably resembled that lady, who was 
more celebrated for her beauty than for her virtues. The 
medallions in general were of a paler colour than the 
coins. To pretend to account for the means of their 
coming to this place would be spending time in conjecture. 
The spot, I think, could not be a Roman camp, because 
it is commanded by hills on two sides; nor does it 
show the least traces of entrenchments; nor can I 
suppose that it was a Roman town, because I have too 
good an opinion of the taste and judgment of those 
polished conquerors to imagine that they would settle 
on so barren and dreary a waste. 


THAT Selborne was a place of some distinction and note in 
the time of the Saxons we can give most undoubted proofs. 
But, as there are few if any accounts of the villages before 
Domesday, it will be best to begin with that venerable 


record. " Ipse rex tenet Selesburne. Eddid regina tenuit, 
et nunquam geldavit. De isto manerio dono dedit 
rex Radfredo presbytero dimidiam hidam cum ecclesia. 
Tempore regis Edwardi et post, valuit duodecim solidos 
et sex denarios ; modo octo solidos et quatuor denarios." 
Here we see that Selborne was a royal manor ; and that 
Editha, the queen of Edward the Confessor, had been 
lady of that manor ; and was succeeded in it by the 
Conqueror ; and that it had a church. Besides these, 
many circumstances concur to prove it to have been a 
Saxon village ; such as the name of the place itself 1 the 
names of many fields, and some families, 2 with a variety of 
words in husbandry and common life, still subsisting 
among the country people. 

1 Selesburne, Seleburne, Selburn, Selbourn, Selborne, and Selborn, as 
it has been variously spelt at different periods, is of Saxon derivation ; 
for Sel signifies great, and burn torrens, a brook or rivulet : so that the 
name seems to be derived from the great perennial stream that breaks 
out at the upper end of the village. Sel also signifies bonus, item, 

foecundus, fertilis. " Sel-^sepp-zun : foecunda graminis clausura ; fertile 
paseuum : a meadow in the parish of Godelming is still called Sal-gars- 
ton." Lye's Saxon Dictionary, in the Supplement, by Mr. Manning. 

2 Thus the name of Aldred signifies all-reverend, and that of Kemp 
means a soldier. Thus we have a church-litton, or enclosure for dead 
bodies, and not a church-yard : there is also a Culver-croft near the 
Grange-farm, being the enclosure where the priory pigeon-house stood, 
from culver, a pigeon. Again there are three steep pastures in this parish 
called the Lithe, from Hlithe, clivus. The wicker-work that binds and 
fastens down a hedge on the top is called ether, from ether an hedge. 
When the good women call their hogs they cry sic, tic* not knowing 
that sic is Saxon, or rather Celtic, for a hog. Coppice or brush wood our 
countrymen call rise, from hris, frondes ; and talk of a load of rise. 
Within the author's memory the Saxon plurals, housen and peason, 
were in common use. But it would be endless to instance in every 
circumstance : he that wishes for more specimens must frequent a 
farmer's kitchen. I have therefore selected some words to show how 
familiar the Saxon dialect was to this district, since in more than seven 
hundred years it is far from being obliterated. 

* 2tKa, porcus, apud Lacones ; un Porceau chez les Lacdemoniens : 
ce mot a sans doute est6 pris des Celtes, qui disoent sic, pour marquer 
un porceau. Encore aujour'huy quand les Bretons chassent ces animaux, 
ils ne disent point autrement, que sic, sic. Antlquite de la Nation, et de la 
Langue des Celtes, par Pezron. 


What probably first drew the attention of the Saxons to 
this spot was the beautiful spring or fountain called Well- 
head, 1 which induced them to build by the banks of that 
perennial current ; for ancient settlers loved to reside by 
brooks and rivulets, where they could dip for their water 
without the trouble and expense of digging wells and of 

It remains still unsettled among the antiquaries at what 
time tracts of land were first appropriated to the chase 
alone for the amusement of the sovereign. Whether our 
Saxon monarchs had any royal forests does not, I believe, 
appear on record ; but the Constitutiones de Foresta of 
Canute, the Dane, are come down to us. We shall not 
therefore pretend to say whether Wolmer-forest existed as 
a royal domain before the conquest. If it did not, we 
may suppose it was laid out by some of our earliest 
Norman kings, who were exceedingly attached to the 
pleasures of the chase, and resided much at Winchester, 
which lies at a moderate distance from this district. The 
Plantagenet princes seem to have been pleased with 
Wolmer ; for tradition says that king John resided just 
upon the verge, at Ward le ham, on a regular and remark- 
able mount, still called King John's Hill, and Lodge Hill ; 
and Edward III. had a chapel in his park, or enclosure, at 
Kingsley. 2 Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, and Richard, 
duke of York, say my evidences, were both, in their turns, 
wardens of Wolmer-forest ; which seems to have served 
for an appointment for the younger princes of the royal 
family, as it may again. 

I have intentionally mentioned Edward III. and the 
dukes Humphrey and Richard, before king Edward II. 
because I have reserved, for the entertainment of my 
readers, a pleasant anecdote respecting that prince, with 
which I shall close this letter. 

1 Well-head signifies spring-head, and not a deep pit from whence 
we draw water. For particulars about which see Letter I. to 
Mr. Pennant. 

2 The parish of Kingsley lies between, and divides Wolmer-forest 
from Ayles Holt-forest. See Letter IX. to Mr. Pennant. 


As Edward II. was hunting on Wolmer-forest, Morris 
Ken, of the kitchen, fell from his horse several times ; at 
which accidents the king laughed immoderately : and when 
the chase was over, ordered him twenty shillings ; x an 
enormous sum for those days ! Proper allowances ought 
to be made for the youth of this monarch, whose spirits 
also, we may suppose, were much exhilarated by the sport 
of the day : but, at the same time, it is reasonable to 
remark that, whatever might be the occasion of Ken's 
first fall, the subsequent ones seem to have been designed. 
The scullion appears to have been an artful fellow, and 
to have seen the king's foible ; which furnishes an 
early specimen of that his easy softness and facility of 
temper, of which the infamous Gaveston took such 
advantages, as brought innumerable calamities on the 
nation, and involved the prince at last in such misfortunes 
and sufferings too deplorable to be mentioned without 
horror and amazement. 


FROM the silence of Domesday respecting churches, it has 
been supposed that few villages had any at the time when 
that record was taken ; but Selborne, we see, enjoyed the 
benefit of one : hence we may conclude, that this place 
was in no abject state even at that very distant period. 
How many fabrics have succeeded each other since the 
days of Radfredus the presbyter, we cannot pretend to 
say ; our business leads us to a description of the present 
edifice, in which we shall be circumstantial. 

1 " Item, paid at the lodge at Wolmer, when the king was stag-hunt- 
ing there, to Morris Ken, of the kitchen, because he rode before 
the king and often fell from his horse, at which the king laughed 
exceedingly a gift, by command, of twenty shillings." A MS. in 
possession of Thomas Astle, esq., containing the private expenses of 
Edward II. 


Our church, which was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, 
consists of three aisles, and measures fifty-four feet in 
length by forty-seven in breadth, being almost as broad as 
it is long. The present building has no pretensions to 
antiquity ; and is, as I suppose, of no earlier date than the 
beginning of the reign of Henry VII. It is perfectly 
plain and unadorned, without painted glass, carved work, 
sculpture, or tracery. But when I say it has no claim to 
antiquity, I would mean to be understood of the fabric in 
general ; for the pillars which support the roof, are 
undoubtedly old, being of that low, squat, thick order, 
usually called Saxon. These, I should imagine, upheld the 
roof of a former church, which, falling into decay, was 
rebuilt on those massy props, because their strength had 
preserved them from the injuries of time. 1 Upon these 
rest blunt gothic arches, such as prevailed in the reign 
above-mentioned, and by which, as a criterion, we would 
prove the date of the building. 

At the bottom of the south aisle, between the west and 
south doors, stands the font, which is deep and capacious, 
and consists of three massy round stones, piled one on 
another, without the least ornament or sculpture : the 
cavity at the top is lined with lead, and has a pipe at 
bottom to convey off the water after the sacred ceremony 
is performed. 

The east end of the south aisle is called the South 
Chancel, and, till within these thirty years, was divided off 
by old carved gothic frame-work of timber, having been a 
private chantry. In this opinion we are more confirmed 
by observing two gothic niches within the space, the one in 
the east wall and the other in the south, near which there 
probably stood images and altars. 

In the middle aisle there is nothing remarkable : but I 
remember when its beams were hung with garlands in 

1 In the same manner, to compare great things with small, did Wyke- 
ham, when he new-built the cathedral of Winchester, from the tower 
westward, apply to his purpose the old piers or pillars of Bishop Walke- 
lin's church, by blending Saxon and Gothic architecture together. 
See Lowth's Life of Wvkeham. 


honour of young women of the parish, reputed to have 
died virgins ; and recollect to have seen the clerk's wife 
cutting, in white paper, the resemblances of gloves, and 
ribbons to be twisted into knots and roses, to decorate 
these memorials of chastity. In the church of Faringdon, 
which is the next parish, many garlands of this sort still 

The north aisle is narrow and low, \^ith a sloping 
ceiling, reaching within eight or nine feet of the floor. It 
had originally a flat roof covered with lead, till, within 
a century past, a churchwarden, stripping off the lead, in 
order, as he said, to have it mended, sold it to a plumber, 
and ran away with the money. This aisle has no door, for 
an obvious reason ; because the north-side of the church- 
yard, being surrounded by the vicarage-garden, affords no 
path to that side of the church. Nothing can be more 
irregular than the pews of this church, which are of all 
dimensions and heights, being patched up according to the 
fancy of the owners : but whoever nicely examines them 
will find that the middle aisle had, on each side, a regular 
row of benches of solid oak, all alike, with a low back- 
board to each. These we should not hesitate to say are 
coeval with the present church : and especially as it is to be 
observed that, at their ends, they are ornamented with 
carved blunt gothic niches, exactly correspondent to the 
arches of the church, and to a niche in the south wall. 
The south aisle also has a row of these benches ; but some 
are decayed through age, and the rest much disguised by 
modern alterations. 

At the upper end of this aisle, and running out to the 
north, stands a transept, known by the name of the North 
Chancel, measuring twenty-one feet from south to north, 
and nineteen feet from east to west : this was intended, no 
doubt, as a private chantry ; and was also, till of late, 
divided off by a gothic frame-work of timber. In its 
north wall, under a very blunt gothic arch, lies perhaps 
the founder of this edifice, which, from the shape of its 
arch, may be deemed no older than the latter end 
of the reign of Henry VII. The tomb was examined 


some years ago, but contained nothing except the skull 
and thigh-bones of a large tall man, and the bones of a 
youth or woman, lying in a very irregular manner, 
without any escutcheon or other token to ascertain the 
names or rank of the deceased. The grave was very 
shallow, and lined with stone at the bottom and on 
the sides. 

From the east wall project four stone brackets, which I 
conclude supported images and crucifixes. In the great 
thick pilaster, jutting out between this transept and the 
chancel, there is a very sharp gothic niche, of older 
date than the present chantry or church. But the chief 
pieces of antiquity are two narrow stone coffin-lids, which 
compose part of the floor, and lie from west to east, with 
the very narrow ends eastward : these belong to remote 
times ; and, if originally placed here, which I doubt, must 
have been part of the pavement of an older transept. At 
present there are no coffins under them, whence I conclude 
they have been removed to this place from some part of a 
former church. One of these lids is so eaten by time, 
that no sculpture can be discovered upon it ; or, perhaps, 
it may be the wrong side uppermost : but on the other, 
which seems to be of stone of a closer and harder texture, 
is to be discerned a discus, with a cross on it, at the 
end of a staff or rod, the well-known symbol of a Knight- 
Templar. 1 

This order was distinguished by a red cross on the left 
shoulder of their cloak, and by this attribute in their hand. 
Now, if these stones belonged to Knights Templars, they 
must have lain here many centuries; for this order 
came into England early in the reign of king Stephen in 
1113; and was dissolved in the time of Edward II. in 
1312, having subsisted only one hundred and ninety-nine 
years. Why I should suppose that Knights Templars 
were occasionally buried at this church, will appear in some 
future letter, when we come to treat more particularly 
concerning the property they possessed here, and the 

1 See Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum, Vol. II., where there is a fine 
engraving of a Knight-Templar, by Hollar. 


intercourse that subsisted between them and the priors 
of Selborne. 

We must now proceed to the chancel, properly so 
called, which seems to be coeval with the church, and is 
in the same plain unadorned style, though neatly kept. 
This room measures thirty-one feet in length, and 
sixteen feet and an half in breadth, and is wainscoted 
all round, as high as to the bottom of the windows. 
The space for the communion table is raised two steps 
above the rest of the floor, and railed in with oaken 

Here I shall say somewhat of the windows of the chancel 
in particular, and of the whole fabric in general. They 
are mostly of that simple and unadorned sort called 
Lancet, some single, some double, and some in triplets. 
At the east end of the chancel are two of a moderate size, 
near each other ; and in the north wall two very distant 
small ones, unequal in length and height : and in the 
south wall are two, one on each side of the chancel door, 
that are broad and squat, and of a different order. At the 
east end of the south aisle of the church there is a large 
lancet-window in a triplet; and two very small, narrow, 
single ones in the south wall, and a broad squat window 
beside, and a double lancet one in the west end ; so that 
the appearance is very irregular. In the north aisle are 
two windows, made shorter when the roof was sloped ; 
and in the north transept a large triple window, shortened 
at the time of a repair in 1721 ; when over it was opened 
a round one of considerable size, which affords an agree- 
able light, and renders that chantry the most cheerful part 
of the edifice. 

The church and chancels have all coved roofs, ceiled 
about the year 1683 ; before which they were open to the 
tiles and shingles, showing the naked rafters, and threaten- 
ing the congregation with the fall of a spar, or a blow from 
a piece of loose mortar. 

On the north wall of the chancel is fixed a large oval 
white marble monument, with the following inscription ; 
and at the foot of the wall, over the deceased, and 


inscribed with his name, age, arms, and time of death, lies 
a large slab of black marble : 

Prope hunc parietem sepelitur 

Oxon. militis filius tertius, Collegii Magdale- 

-nensis ibidem alumnus, & socius. Tandem faven- 

-te collegio ad hanc ecclesiam promotus ; ubi primae- 

-va morum simplicitate, et diffusa erga omnes bene- 

volentia feliciter consenuit. 
Pastor fidelis, comis, affabilis, 
Maritus, et pater amantissimus, 
A conjuge invicem, et liberis, atque 
A parochianis impense dilectus. 
Pauperibus ita beneficus 
ut decimam partem census 

piis usibus consecravit. 
Meritis demum juxta et annis plenus 
ex hac vita migravit Feb. 1 3. 
anno salutis 172^ 
Aetatis suae 77. 
Hoc posuit Rebecca 
Conjux illius maestissima, 
mox secutura. 

On the same wall is newly fixed a small square table- 
monument of white marble, inscribed in the following 
manner : 

Sacred to the memory 

of the Rev d . ANDREW ETTY, B.D. 

23 Years Vicar of this parish: 

In whose character 
The conjugal, the parental, and the sacerdotal virtues 

were so happily combined 

as to deserve the imitation of mankind. 

And if in any particular he followed more invariably 

the steps of his blessed Master, 

It was in his humility. 

His parishioners, 

especially the sick and necessitous, 
as long as any traces of his memory shall remain, 

must lament his death. 

To perpetuate such an example, this stone is erected ; 
as while living he was a preacher of righteousness, 

so, by it, he being dead yet speaketh. 
He died April 8 th . 1784. Aged 66 years. 



WE have now taken leave of the inside of the church, and 
shall pass by a door at the west end of the middle aisle 
into the belfry. This room is part of a handsome square 
embattled tower of forty-five feet in height, and of much 
more modern date than the church; but old enough to 
have needed a thorough repair in 1781, when it was neatly 
stuccoed at a considerable expense, by a set of workmen 
who were employed on it for the greatest part of the 
summer. The old bells, three in number, loud and out of 
tune, were taken down in 1735, and cast into four; to 
which Sir Simeon Stuart, the grandfather of the present 
baronet, added a fifth at his own expense : and, bestowing 
it in the name of his favourite daughter Mrs. Mary Stuart, 
caused it to be cast with the following motto round it : 

" Clara puella dedit, dixitque mihi esto Maria : 
Illius et laudes nomen ad astra sono." 

The day of the arrival of this tuneable peal was observed 
as an high festival by the village, and rendered more 
joyous, by an order from the donor, that the treble-bell 
should be fixed bottom upward in the ground, and filled 
with punch, of which all present were permitted to partake. 

The porch of the church, to the south, is modern, and 
would not be worthy attention did it not shelter a fine 
sharp gothic door-way. This is undoubtedly much older 
than the present fabric ; and being found in good pre- 
servation, was worked into the wall, and is the grand 
entrance into the church : nor are the folding-doors to be 
passed over in silence ; since, from their thick and clumsy 
structure, and the rude flourished-work of their hinges, 
they may possibly be as ancient as the door-way itself. 

The whole roof of the south aisle, and the south-side of 
the roof of the middle aisle, is covered with oaken shingles 
instead of tiles, on account of their lightness, which favours 
the ancient and crazy-timber-frame. And indeed, the 


consideration of accidents by fire excepted, this sort of 
roofing is much more eligible than tiles. For shingles 
well seasoned, and cleft from quartered timber, never 
warp, nor let in drifting snow; nor do they shiver with 
frost ; nor are they liable to be blown off, like tiles ; but 
when well nailed down, last for a long period, as experience 
has shown us in this place, where those that face to the 
north are known to have endured, untouched, by un- 
doubted tradition for more than a century. 

Considering the size of the church, and the extent of 
the parish, the church-yard is very scanty ; and especially 
as all wish to be buried on the south-side, which is become 
such a mass of mortality that no person can be there 
interred without disturbing or displacing the bones of his 
ancestors. There is reason to suppose that it once was 
larger, and extended to what is now the vicarage court 
and garden ; because many human bones have been dug 
up in those parts several yards without the present limits. 
At the east end are a few graves ; yet none till very lately 
on the north-side ; but, as two or three families of best 
repute have begun to bury in that quarter, prejudice may 
wear out by degrees, and their example be followed by 
the rest of the neigbourhood. 

In speaking of the church, I have all along talked of 
the east and west-end, as if the chancel stood exactly true 
to those points of the compass ; but this is by no means 
the case, for the fabric bears so much to the north of the 
east that the four corners of the tower, and not the four 
sides, stand to the four cardinal points. The best method 
of accounting for this deviation seems to be, that the 
workmen, who probably were employed in the longest 
days, endeavoured to set the chancels to the rising of 
the sun. 

Close by the church, at the west end, stands the 
vicarage-house ; an old, but roomy and convenient edifice. 
It faces very agreeably to the morning sun, and is divided 
from the village by a neat and cheerful court. According 
to the manner of old times, the hall was open to the roof; 
and so continued probably, till the vicars became family- 


men, and began to want more conveniences ; when they 
flung a floor across, and, by partitions, divided the space 
into chambers. In this hall we remember a date, some 
time in the reign of Elizabeth ; it was over the door that 
leads to the stairs. 

Behind the house is a garden of an irregular shape, but 
well laid out; whose terrace commands so romantic and 
picturesque a prospect, that the first master in landscape 
might contemplate it with pleasure, and deem it an object 
well worthy of his pencil. 


IN the church-yard of this village is a yew-tree, whose 
aspect bespeaks it to be of a great age : it seems to have 
seen several centuries, and is probably coeval with the 
church, and therefore may be deemed an antiquity : the 
body is squat, short, and thick, and measures twenty-three 
feet in the girth, supporting an head of suitable extent to 
its bulk. This is a male tree, which in the spring sheds 
clouds of dust, and fills the atmosphere around with its 

As far as we have been able to observe, the males of 
this species become much larger than the females ; and it 
has so fallen out that most of the yew-trees in the church- 
yards of this neighbourhood are males : but this must 
have been matter of mere accident, since men, when they 
first planted yews, little dreamed that there were sexes in 

In a yard, in the midst of the street, till very lately, 
grew a middle-sized female tree of the same species, which 
commonly bore great crops of berries. By the high winds 
usually prevailing about the autumnal equinox, these 
berries, then ripe, were blown down into the road, where 
the hogs ate them. And it was very remarkable, that, 
though barrow-hogs and young sows found no incon- 


venience from this food, yet milch-sows often died after 
such a repast: a circumstance that can be accounted for 
only by supposing that the latter, being much exhausted 
and hungry, devoured a larger quantity. 

While mention is making of the bad effects of yew- 
berries, it may be proper to remind the unwary, that the 
twigs and leaves of yew, though eaten in a very small 
quantity are certain death to horses and cows, and that in 
a few minutes. An horse tied to a yew-hedge, or to a 
faggot-stack of dead yew, shall be found dead before the 
owner can be aware that any danger is at hand : and the 
writer has been several times a sorrowful witness to losses 
of this kind among his friends, and in the island of Ely had 
once the mortification to see nine young steers or bullocks 
of his own all lying dead in an heap from browzing a little 
on an hedge of yew in an old garden into which they had 
broken in snowy weather. Even the clippings of a yew- 
hedge have destroyed a whole dairy of cows when thrown 
inadvertently into a yard. And yet sheep and turkeys, 
and, as park-keepers say, deer, will crop these trees with 

Some intelligent persons assert that the branches of yew, 
while green, are not noxious ; and that they will kill only 
when dead and withered, by lacerating the stomach : but 
to this assertion we cannot by any means assent, because, 
among the number of cattle that we have known fall 
victims to this deadly food, not one has been found, when 
it was opened, but had a lump of green yew in its paunch. 
True it is, that yew-trees stand for twenty years or more 
in a field, and no bad consequences ensue : but at some 
time or other cattle, either from wantonness when full, or 
from hunger when empty (from both which circumstances 
we have seen them perish), will be meddling, to their 
certain destruction ; the yew seems to be a very improper 
tree for a pasture-field. 

Antiquaries seem much at a loss to determine at what 
period this tree first obtained a place in church-yards. A 
statute passed A.D. 1307 and 35 Edward I. the title of 
which is " Ne rector arbores in cemeterio prosternat." 


Now if it is recollected that we seldom see any other very 
large or ancient tree in a church-yard but yews, this statute 
must have principally related to this species of tree ; and 
consequently their being planted in church-yards is of 
much more ancient date than the year 1307. 

As to the use of these trees, possibly the more respect- 
able parishioners were buried under their shade before 
the improper custom was introduced of burying within 
the body of the church, where the living are to assemble. 
Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, 1 was buried under an oak ; the 
most honourable place of interment probably next to the 
cave of Machpelah, 2 which seems to have been appropriated 
to the remains of the patriarchal family alone. 

The farther use of yew-trees might be as a screen to 
churches, by their thick foliage, from the violence of 
winds ; perhaps also for the purpose of archery, the 
best long bows being made of that material : and we do 
not hear that they are planted in the church-yards of 
other parts of Europe, where long bows were not so much 
in use. They might also be placed as a shelter to the 
congregation assembling before the church-doors were 
opened, and as an emblem of mortality by their funereal 
appearance. In the south of England every church-yard 
almost has its tree, and some two ; but in the north, we 
understand, few are to be found. 

The idea of R. C. that the yew-tree afforded its branches 
instead of palms for the processions on Palm-Sunday, is a 
good one, and deserves attention. See Gent. Mag. Vol. L. 
p. 128. 


THE living of Selborne was a very small vicarage; but, 
being in the patronage of Magdalen-college, in the uni- 
versity of Oxford, that society endowed it with the great 
tithes of Selborne, more than a century ago : and since the 

x Gen. xxxv. 8. 2 Gen. xxiii. 9. 



year 1758 again with the great tithes of Oakhanger, called 
Bene's parsonage : so that, together, it is become a respect- 
able piece of preferment, to which one of the fellows is 
always presented. The vicar holds the great tithes, by 
lease, under the college. The great disadvantage of this 
living is, that it has not one foot of glebe near home. 1 


King's books - -821 

Yearly tenths - -0162^ 

Yearly procurations for Blackmore and Oak- \ 
hanger Chap : with acquit : - J 

Selborne procurations and acquit : -090 

I am unable to give a complete list of the vicars of 
this parish till towards the end of the reign of queen 
Elizabeth ; from which period the registers furnish a 
regular series. 

In Domesday we find thus " De isto manerio dono 
dedit Rex Radfredo presbytero dimidiam hidam cum 
ecclesia." So that before Domesday, which was compiled 
between the years 1081 and 1086, here was an officiating 
minister at this place. 

After this, among my documents, I find occasional 
mention of a vicar here and there : the first is 

Roger, instituted in 1254. 
In 1410 John Lynne was vicar of Selborne. 
In 1411 Hugo Tybbe was vicar. 

The presentations to the vicarage of Selborne generally 
ran in the name of the prior and the convent ; but Tybbe 
was presented by prior John Wynechestre only. 

June 29, 1528, William Fisher, vicar of Selborne, re- 
signed to Miles Peyrson. 

1594, William White appears to have been vicar to this 
time. Of this person there is nothing remarkable, but 
that he hath made a regular entry twice in the register of 
Selborne of the funeral of Thomas Cowper, bishop of 
Winchester, as if he had been buried at Selborne ; yet this 

1 At Bene's, or Bin's, parsonage there is a house and stout barn, and 
seven acres of glebe. Bene's parsonage is three miles from the church. 


learned prelate, who died 1594, was buried at Winchester, 
in the cathedral, near the episcopal throne. 1 

1595, Richard Boughton, vicar. 

1596, William Inkforbye, vicar. 
May 1606, Thomas Phippes, vicar. 
June 1631, Ralph Austine, vicar. 

July 1632, John Longworth. This unfortunate gentle- 
man, living in the time of Cromwell's usurpation, was 
deprived of his preferment for many years, probably 
because he would not take the league and covenant : for 
I observe that his father-in-law, the Reverend Jethro Beal, 
rector of Faringdon, which is the next parish, enjoyed his 
benefice during the whole of that unhappy period. Long- 
worth, after he was dispossessed, retired to a little tene- 
ment about one hundred and fifty yards from the church, 
where he earned a small pittance by the practice of physic. 
During those dismal times it was not uncommon for the 
deposed clergy to take up a medical character ; as was the 
case in particular, I know, with the Reverend Mr. Yalden, 
rector of Compton, near Guildford, in the county of 
Surrey. Vicar Longworth used frequently to mention to 
his sons, who told it to my relations, that, the Sunday after 
his deprivation, his puritanical successor stepped into the 
pulpit with no small petulance and exultation ; and began 
his sermon from Psalm xx. 8 : " They are brought down 
and fallen ; but we are risen and stand upright." This 
person lived to be restored in 1660, and continued vicar 
for eighteen years ; but was so impoverished by his mis- 
fortunes, that he left the vicarage-house and premises in a 
very abject and dilapidated state. 

July 1678. Richard Byfield, who left eighty pounds by 
will, the interest to be applied to apprentice out poor 
children : but this money, lent on private security, was in 
danger of being lost, and the bequest remained in an 
unsettled state for near twenty years, till 1 700 ; so that 
little or no advantage was derived from it. About the 
year 1759 it was again in the utmost danger by the failure 
of a borrower ; but, by prudent management, has since 

x See Godwin de Praesulibus. Folio. Cant. 1743, p. 239. 


been raised to one hundred pounds stock in the three per 
cents, reduced. The trustees are the vicar and the renters 
or owners of Temple, Priory, Grange, Blackmore, and 
Oakhanger-house, for the time being. This gentleman 
seemed inclined to have put the vicarial premises in a 
comfortable state ; and began, by building a solid stone 
wall round the front-court, and another in the lower yard, 
between that and the neighbouring garden ; but was inter- 
rupted by death from fulfilling his laudable intentions. 

April 1680, Barnabas Long became vicar. 

June 1 68 1. This living was now in such low estimation 
in Magdalen-college, that it descended to a junior fellow, 
Gilbert White, M. A., 1 who was instituted to it in the thirty- 
first year of his age. At his first coming he ceiled the 
chancel, and also floored and wainscoted the parlour and 
hall, which before were paved with stone, and had naked 
walls ; he enlarged the kitchen and brewhouse, and dug a 
cellar and well : he also built a large new barn in the lower 
yard, removed the hovels in the front court, which he laid 
out in walks and borders ; and entirely planned the back 
garden, before a rude field with a stone-pit in the midst of 
it. By his will he gave and bequeathed " the sum of forty 
pounds to be laid out in the most necessary repairs of the 
church ; that is, in strengthening and securing such parts 
as seem decaying and dangerous." With this sum two 
large buttresses were erected to support the east end of the 
south wall of the church ; and the gable-end wall of the 
west end of the south aisle was new built from the ground. 

By his will also he gave " One hundred pounds to be 
laid out on lands ; the yearly rents whereof shall be 
employed in teaching the poor children of Selbourn parish 
to read and write, and say their prayers and catechism, and 
to sew and knit: and be under the direction of his 
executrix as long as she lives ; and, after her, under the 
direction of such of his children and their issue, as shall 
live in or within five miles of the said parish : and on 
failure of any such, then under the direction of the vicar 
of Selbourn for the time being ; but still to the uses above- 
1 The author's grandfather and godfather. 


named." With this sum was purchased, of Thomas 
Turville, of Hawkeley, in the county of Southampton, 
yeoman, and Hannah his wife, two closes of freehold land, 
commonly called Collier's, containing, by estimation, eleven 
acres, lying in Hawkeley aforesaid. These closes are let 
at this time, 1785, on lease, at the rate of three pounds by 
the year. 

This vicar also gave by will two hundred pounds towards 
the repairs of the highways 1 in the parish of Selborne. 
That sum was carefully and judiciously laid out in the 
summer of the year 1730, by his son John White, who 
made a solid and firm causey from Rood-green, all down 
Honey-lane, to a farm called Oakwoods, where the sandy 
soil begins. This miry and gulfy lane was chosen as 
worthy of repair, because it leads to the forest, and thence 
through the Holt to the town of Farnham in Surrey, the 
only market in those days for men who had wheat to sell 
in this neighbourhood. This causey was so deeply bedded 
with stone, so properly raised above the level of the soil, 
and so well drained, that it has, in some degree, withstood 
fifty-four years of neglect and abuse; and might, with 
moderate attention, be rendered a solid and comfortable 
road. The space from Rood-green to Oak-woods measures 
about three quarters of a mile. 

In 1727, William Henry Cane, B.D., became vicar ; 
and, among several alterations and repairs, new-built the 
back front of the vicarage-house. 

On February i, 1740, Duncombe Bristowe, D.D., was 
instituted to this living. What benefactions this vicar 
bestowed on the parish will be best explained by the follow- 
ing passages from his will : " Item, I hereby give and 
bequeath to the minister and churchwardens of the parish 
of Selbourn, in the county of Southampton, a mahogany 
table, which I have ordered to be made for the celebration 
of the Holy Communion ; and also the sum of thirty 
pounds, in trust, to be applied in manner following ; that 

1<< Such legacies were very common in former times, before any 
effectual laws were made for the repairs of highways." Sir John Cullum's 
Hawsted, p. 15. 


is, ten pounds towards the charge of erecting a gallery at 
the west end of the church ; and ten pounds to be laid out 
for cloathing, and such like necessaries, among the poor 
(and especially among the ancient and infirm) of the said 
parish : and the remaining ten pounds to be distributed in 
bread, at twenty shillings a week, at the discretion of John 
White, esq. or any of his family, who shall be resident in 
the said parish." 

On November 12, 1758, Andrew Etty, B.D., became 
vicar. Among many useful repairs he new-roofed the 
body of the vicarage-house ; and wainscoted, up to the 
bottom of the windows, the whole of the chancel ; to the 
neatness and decency of which he always paid the most 
exact attention. 

On September 25, 1784, Christopher Taylor, B.D., was 
inducted into the vicarage of Selborne. 


I SHALL now proceed to the Priory, which is undoubtedly 
the most interesting part of our history. 

The Priory of Selborne was founded by Peter de la 
Roche, or de Rupibus, 1 one of those accomplished foreigners 
that resorted to the court of king John, where they were 
usually caressed, and met with a more favourable reception 
than ought, in prudence, to have been shown by any 
monarch to strangers. This adventurer was a Poictevin 
by birth, had been bred to arms in his youth, and distin- 
guished by knighthood. Historians all agree not to speak 
very favourably of this remarkable man ; they allow that 
he was possessed of courage and fine abilities, but then 
they charge him with arbitrary principles, and violent 
conduct. By his insinuating manners he soon rose high in 
the favour of John ; and in 1205, early in the reign of that 
prince, was appointed bishop of Winchester. In 1214 he 
1 See Godwin de Praesulibus Anglia. Folio. London, 1743, p. 217. 


became lord chief justiciary of England, the first magistrate 
in the state, and a kind of viceroy, on whom depended all 
the civil affairs in the kingdom. After the death of John, 
and during the minority of his son Henry, this prelate took 
upon him the entire management of the realm, and was 
soon appointed protector of the king and kingdom. 

The barons saw with indignation a stranger possessed of 
all the power and influence, to part of which they thought 
they had a claim ; they therefore entered into an association 
against him, and determined to wrest some of that authority 
from him which he had so unreasonably usurped. The 
bishop discerned the storm at a distance; and, prudently 
resolving to give way to that torrent of envy which he 
knew not how to withstand, withdrew quietly to the Holy 
Land, where he resided some time. 

At this juncture a very small part of Palestine remained 
in the hands of the Christians : they had been by Saladine 
dispossessed of Jerusalem, and all the internal parts, near 
forty years before ; and with difficulty maintained some 
maritime towns and garrisons : yet the busy and enter- 
prising spirit of de Rupibus could not be at rest; he 
distinguished himself by the splendour and magnificence of 
his expenses, and amused his mind by strengthening 
fortresses and castles, and by removing and endowing of 
churches. Before his expedition to the east he had 
signalized himself as a founder of convents, and as a 
benefactor to hospitals and monasteries. 

In the year 1231 he returned again to England; and 
the very next year, in 1232, began to build and endow the 
Priory of Selborne. As this great work followed so close 
upon his return, it is not improbable that it was the result 
of a vow made during his voyage ; and especially as it was 
dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Why the bishop made 
choice of Selborne for the scene of his munificence can 
never be determined now : it can only be said that the 
parish was in his diocese, and lay almost midway between 
Winchester and Farnham, or South Waltham and Farn- 
ham ; from either of which places he could without much 
trouble overlook his workmen, and observe what progress 


they made ; and that the situation was retired, with a 
stream running by it, and sequestered from the world, 
amidst woods and meadows, and so far proper for the site 
of a religious house. 1 

The first person with whom the founder treated about 
the purchase of land was Jacobus de Achangre, or Ochangre, 
a gentleman of property who resided at that hamlet ; and, 
as appears, at the house now called Oakhanger-house. 
With him he agreed for a croft, or little close of land, 
known by the name of La liega, or La lyge, which was to 
be the immediate site of the Priory. 

De Achangre also accommodated the bishop at the same 
instant with three more adjoining crofts, which for a time 
was all the footing that this institution obtained in the 
parish. The seller in the conveyance says " Warantizabimus, 
defendemus, et aequietabimus contra omnes gentes" ; viz. 
"We will warrant the thing sold against all claims from 
any quarter." In modern conveyancing this would be 
termed a covenant for further assurance. Afterwards is 
added "Pro hac autem donacione, &c. dedit mihi pred. 
Episcopus sexdecem marcas argenti in Gersumam " : i.e. 
" the bishop gave me sixteen silver marks as a consideration 
for the thing purchased." 

As the grant from Jac. de Achangre was without 
date, 2 and the next is circumstanced in the same manner, 

1 The institution at Selborne was a priory of Black-Canons of the order 
of St. Augustine, called also Canons-Regular. Regular-Canons were 
such as lived in a conventual manner, under one roof, had a common 
refectory and dormitory, and were bound by vows to observe the rules 
and statutes of their order : in fine, they were a kind of religious, whose 
discipline was less rigid than the monks. The chief rule of these canons 
was that of St. Augustine, who was constituted bishop of Hippo, 
A.D. 395: but they were not brought into England till after the 
conquest; and seem not to have obtained the appellation of Augustine 
canons till some years after. Their habit was a long black cassock, with 
a white rocket over it; and over that a black cloak and hood. The 
monks were always shaved ; but these canons wore their hair and beards, 
and caps on their heads. There were of these canons, and women of the 
same order called Canonesses, about 175 houses. 

2 The custom of affixing dates to deeds was not become general in the 
reign of Henry III. 


we cannot say exactly what Interval there was between the 
two purchases ; but we find that Jacobus de Nortun, a 
neighbouring gentleman, also soon sold to the bishop of 
Winchester some adjoining grounds, through which our 
stream passes, that the priory might be accommodated 
with a mill, which was a common necessary appendage to 
every manor : he also allowed access to these lands by a 
road for carts and waggons. "Jacobus de Nortun concedit 
Petro Winton episcopo totum cursum aque que descendit 
de Molendino de Durton usq ; ad boscum Will. Mauduit, 
et croftam terre vocat: Edriche croft, cum extensione 
ejusdem et abuttamentis ; ad fundandam domum religiosam 
de ordine Sti. Augustini. Concedit etiam viam ad carros, 
et caretas," etc. This vale, down which runs the brook is 
now called the Long Lithe, or Lythe. Bating the follow- 
ing particular expression, this grant runs much in the style 
of the former; "Dedit mihi episcopus predictus triginta 
quinque marcas argenti ad me acquietandum versus Ju- 
daeos." That is, "The bishop advanced me thirty-five 
marks of silver to pay my debts to the Jews," who were 
then the only lenders of money. 

Finding himself still straitened for room, the founder 
applied to his royal master, Henry, who was graciously 
pleased to bestow certain lands in the manor of Selborne 
on the new priory of his favourite minister. These 
grounds had been the property of Stephen de Lucy ; and 
abutting upon the narrow limits of the convent, became a 
very commodious and agreeable acquisition. This grant, 
I find, was made on March the 9th, in the eighteenth year 
of Henry, viz. 1234, being two years after the foundation 
of the monastery. The royal donor bestowed his favour 
with a good grace, by adding to it almost every immunity 
and privilege that could have been specified in the law 
language of the times. " Quare volumus prior, &c. 
habeant totam terram, &c. cum omnibus libertatibus in 
bosco et piano, in viis et semitis, pratis et pascuis ; aquis 
et piscariis ; infra burgum, et extra burgum cum soka et 
saca, Thol et Them, Infangenethef et Utfangenethef, et 
hamsocne et blodwite, et pecunia que dari solet pro murdro 


et forstal, et flemenestrick, et cum quietancia de omni 
scotto et geldo, et de omnibus auxiliis regum, vice comitum, 
et omn: ministralium suorum ; et hidagio et exercitibus, 
et scutagiis, et tallagiis, et shiris et hundredis, et placitis et 
querelis, et warda et wardpeny, et opibus castellorum et 
pontium, et clausuris parcorum, et omni carcio et sumagio, 
et domor: regal: edificatione, et omnimoda reparatione, 
et cum omnibus aliis libertatibus." This grant was made 
out by Richard bishop of Chichester, then chancellor, at 
the town of Northampton, before the lord chief justiciary, 
who was the founder himself. 

The charter of foundation of the Priory, dated 1233, 
comes next in order to be considered ; but being of some 
length, I shall not interrupt my narrative by placing it 
here ; and therefore refer the reader to the appendix, 
No. I. This my copy, taken from the original, I have 
compared with Dugdale's copy, and find that they perfectly 
agree ; except that in the latter the preamble and the 
names of the witnesses are omitted. Yet I think it proper 
to quote a passage from this charter "Et ipsa domus 
religiosa a cujuslibet alterius domus religiosae subjectione 
libera permaneat, et in omnibus absoluta" to show how 
much Dugdale was mistaken when he inserted Selborne 
among the alien priories ; forgetting that this disposition 
of the convent contradicted the grant he had published. 
In the Monasticon Anglicanum in English, p. 119, is part 
of his catalogue of alien priories, suppressed 2 Henry V., 
viz. 1414, where may be seen as follows : 

Sele, Sussex. 



This appeared to me from the first to have been an 
oversight, before I had seen my authentic evidences. For 
priories alien, a few conventual ones excepted, were little 
better than granges to foreign abbeys; and their priors 
little more than bailiffs, removable at will : whereas the 
priory of Selborne possessed the valuable estates and manors 


of Selborne, Achangre, Norton, Brompden, Bassinges, 
Basingstoke, and Natele ; and the prior challenged the 
right of Pillory, Thurcet, and Furcas, and every manerial 

I find next a grant from Jo. de Venur, or Venuz, to the 
prior of Selborne "de tota mora [a moor or bog] ubi 
Beme oritur usque ad campum vivarii, et de prato voc. 
Sydenmeade cum abutt: et de cursu aque molendini." 
And also a grant in reversion, "unius virgate terre" [a 
yard land], in Achangre at the death of Richard Actedene 
his sister's husband, who had no child. He was to present 
a pair of gloves of one penny value to the prior and 
canons, to be given annually by the said Richard ; and to 
quit all claim to the said lands in reversion, provided the 
prior and canons would engage annually to pay to the 
king, through the hands of his bailiffs of Aulton, ten 
shillings at four quarterly payments, "pro omnibus serviciis, 
consuetudinibus, exactionibus, et demandis." 

This Jo. de Venur was a man of property at Oakhanger, 
and lived probably at the spot now called Chapel-farm. 
The grant bears date the iyth year of the reign of Henry 
III. [viz. 1233]. 

It would be tedious to enumerate every little grant for 
lands or tenements that might be produced from my 
vouchers. I shall therefore pass over all such for the 
present, and conclude this letter with a remark that must 
strike every thinking person with some degree of wonder. 
No sooner had a monastic institution got a footing, but 
the neighbourhood began to be touched with a secret and 
religious awe. Every person round was desirous to pro- 
mote so good a work ; and either by sale, by grant, or by 
gift in reversion, was ambitious of appearing a benefactor. 
They who had not lands to spare gave roads to accommo- 
date the infant foundation. The religious were not 
backward in keeping up this pious propensity, which they 
observed so readily influenced the breasts of men. Thus 
did the more opulent monasteries add house to house, and 
field to field ; and by degrees manor to manor : till at last 
"there was no place left"; but every district around 


became appropriated to the purposes of their founders, and 
every precinct was drawn into the vortex. 


OUR forefathers in this village were no doubt as busy and 
bustling, and as important, as ourselves : yet have their 
names and transactions been forgotten from century to 
century, and have sunk into oblivion; nor has this happened 
only to the vulgar, but even to men remarkable and 
famous in their generation. I was led into this train of 
thinking by finding in my vouchers that Sir Adam Gurdon 
was an inhabitant of Selborne, and a man of the first 
rank and property in the parish. By Sir Adam Gurdon I 
would be understood to mean that leading and accom- 
plished malcontent in the Mountfort faction, who dis- 
tinguished himself by his daring conduct in the reign 
of Henry III. The first that we hear of this person in 
my papers is, that with two others he was bailiff of Alton 
before the sixteenth of Henry III., viz. about 1231, and 
then not knighted. Who Gurdon was, and whence he 
came, does not appear : yet there is reason to suspect that 
he was originally a mere soldier of fortune, who had raised 
himself by marrying women of property. The name 
of Gurdon does not seem to be known in the south ; 
but there is a name so like it in an adjoining kingdom, and 
which belongs to two or three noble families, that it is 
probable this remarkable person was a North Briton ; and 
the more so, since the Christian name of Adam is a 
distinguished one to this day among the family of the 
Gordons. But, be this as it may, Sir Adam Gurdon has 
been noticed by all the writers of English history for 
his bold disposition and disaffected spirit, in that he not 
only figured during the successful rebellion of Leicester, 
but kept up the war after the defeat and death of that 
baron, entrenching himself in the woods of Hampshire, 


towards the town of Farnham. After the battle of 
Evesham, in which Mountfort fell, in the year 1265, 
Gurdon might not think it safe to return to his house for 
fear of a surprise ; but cautiously fortified himself amidst 
the forests and woodlands with which he was so well 
acquainted. Prince Edward, desirous of putting an 
end to the troubles which had so long harassed the 
kingdom, pursued the arch-rebel into his fastnesses ; 
attacked his camp ; leaped over the entrenchments ; and, 
singling out Gurdon, ran him down, wounded him, and 
took him prisoner. 1 

There is not perhaps in all history a more remarkable 
instance of command of temper, and magnanimity, than 
this before us: that a young prince, in the moment of 
victory, when he had the fell adversary of the crown 
and royal family at his mercy, should be able to withhold 
his hand from that vengeance which the vanquished so 
well deserved. A cowardly disposition would have been 
blinded by resentment : but this gallant heir apparent 
saw at once a method of converting a most desperate 
foe into a lasting friend. He raised the fallen veteran 
from the ground, he pardoned him, he admitted him into 
his confidence, and introduced him to the queen, then 
lying at Guildford, that very evening. 1 This unmerited 
and unexpected lenity melted the heart of the rugged 
Gurdon at once ; he became in an instant a loyal and 
useful subject, trusted and employed in matters of moment 
by Edward when king, and confided in till the day of 
his death. 


IT has been hinted in a former letter that Sir Adam 
Gurdon had availed himself by marrying women of 
property. By my evidences it appears that he had three 
wives, and probably in the following order : Constantia, 

1 M. Paris, p. 675, and Triveti Annales. 


Ameria, and Agnes. The first of these ladies, who was 
the companion of his middle life, seems to have been a 
person of considerable fortune, which she inherited from 
Thomas Makerel, a gentleman of Selborne, who was either 
her father or uncle. The second, Ameria, calls herself the 
quondam wife of Sir Adam, " quae fui uxor," etc. and talks 
of her sons under age. Now Gurdon had no son : and 
beside Agnes in another document says, " Ego Agnes 
quondam uxor Domini Adae Gurdon in pura et ligea 
viduitate mea" : but Gurdon could not leave two widows ; 
and therefore it seems probable that he had been divorced 
from Ameria, who afterwards married, and had sons. By 
Agnes Sir Adam had a daughter, Johanna, who was his 
heiress, to whom Agnes in her life-time surrendered part of 
her jointure : he had also a bastard son. 

Sir Adam seems to have inhabited the house now called 
Temple, lying about two miles east of the church, which 
had been the property of Thomas Makerel. 

In the year 1262 he petitioned the prior of Selborne 
in his own name, and that of his wife Constantia only, 
for leave to build him an oratory in his manor-house, 
" in curia sua." Licenses of this sort were frequently 
obtained by men of fortune and rank from the bishop 
of the diocese, the archbishop, and sometimes, as I have 
seen instances, from the pope ; not only for convenience- 
sake, and on account of distance, and the badness of 
the roads, but as a matter of state and distinction. Why 
the owner should apply to the prior, in preference to the 
bishop of the diocese, and how the former became com- 
petent to such a grant, I cannot say ; but that the priors of 
Selborne did take that privilege is plain, because some 
years afterward, in 1280, Prior Richard granted to Henry 
Waterford and his wife Nicholaa a license to build an 
oratory in their court-house, " curia sua de Waterford," in 
which they might celebrate divine service, saving the rights 
of the mother church of Basynges. Yet all the while 
the prior of Selborne grants with such reserve and caution, 
as if in doubt of his power, and leaves Gurdon and his 
lady answerable in future to the bishop, or his ordinary, or 


to the vicar for the time being, in case they should infringe 
the rights of the mother church of Selborne. 

The manor-house called Temple is at present a single 
building, running in length from south to north, and has 
been occupied as a common farm house from time im- 
memorial. The south end is modern, and consists of 
a brew-house, and then a kitchen. The middle part is 
an hall twenty-seven feet in length, and nineteen feet 
in breadth; and has been formerly open to the top, but 
there is now a floor above it, and also a chimney in 
the western wall. The roofing consists of strong massive 
rafter-work ornamented with carved roses. I have often 
looked for the lamb and flag, the arms of the Knights 
Templars, without success ; but in one corner found a fox 
with a goose on his back, so coarsely executed, that it 
required some attention to make out the device. 

Beyond the hall to the north is a small parlour with a 
vast heavy stone chimney-piece ; and, at the end of all, the 
chapel or oratory, whose massive thick walls, and narrow 
windows at once bespeak great antiquity. This room is 
only sixteen feet by sixteen feet eight inches ; and full 
seventeen feet nine inches in height. The ceiling is formed 
of vast joists, placed only five or six inches apart. Modern 
delicacy would not much approve of such a place of wor- 
ship : for it has at present much more the appearance of a 
dungeon than of a room fit for the reception of people of 
condition. For the outside I refer the reader to the plate, in 
which Mr. Grimm has represented it with his usual accuracy. 
The field on which this oratory abuts is still called Chapel- 
field. The situation of this house is very particular, for it 
stands upon the immediate verge of a steep abrupt hill. 

Not many years since this place was used for an hop-kiln, 
and was divided into two stories by a loft, part of which 
remains at present, and makes it convenient for peat and 
turf, with which it is stowed. 



THE Priory at times was much obliged to Gurdon and his 
family. As Sir Adam began to advance in years he found 
his mind influenced by the prevailing opinion of the reason- 
ableness and efficacy of prayers for the dead ; and, therefore, 
in conjunction with his wife Constantia, in the year 1271, 
granted to the prior and convent of Selborne all his right 
and claim to a certain place, placea, called La Pleystow, in 
the village aforesaid, " in liberam, puram, et perpetuam 
elemosinam." This Pleystow, 1 locus ludorum, or play-place, 
is a level area near the church of about forty-four yards by 
thirty-six, and is known now by the name of the Plestor. 2 

It continues still, as it was in old times, to be the scene 
of recreation for the youths and children of the neighbour- 
hood ; and impresses an idea on the mind that this village, 
even in Saxon times, could not be the most abject of places, 
when the inhabitants thought proper to assign so spacious 
a spot for the sports and amusements of its young people. 3 

As soon as the prior became possessed of this piece of 
ground, he procured a charter for a market 4 from king 
Henry III. and began to erect houses and stalls, " seldas," 
around it. From this period Selborne became a market 
town : but how long it enjoyed that privilege does not 

1 In Saxon Ple^erco]?, or Ple3fcoj; viz. Plegestow, or Plegstow. 

2 At this juncture probably the vast oak, mentioned p. 6, was planted 
by the prior, as an ornament to his new acquired market place. Accord- 
ing to this supposition the oak was aged 432 years when blown down. 

3 For more circumstances respecting the Plestor, see Letter II. to Mr. 

4 Bishop Tanner, in his Notitia Monastica, has made a mistake respect- 
ing the market and fair at Selborne; for in his reference to Dodsworth, 
cart. 54 Hen. III. m. 3, he says, " De mercatu, et feria de Seleburn." But 
this reference is wrong ; for, instead of Seleburn, it proves that the place 
there meant was Lekeborne, or Legeborne, in the county of Lincoln. 
This error was copied from the index of the Cat. MSS. Angl. It does 
not appear that there ever was a chartered fair at Selborne. For several 
particulars respecting the present fair at Selborne see Letter XXVI. of 
these Antiquities. 


appear. At the same time Gurdon reserved to himself, 
and his heirs, a way through the said Plestor to a tenement 
and some crofts at the upper end, abutting on the south 
corner of the church-yard. This was, in old days, the 
manerial house of the street manor, though now a poor 
cottage ; and is known at present by the modern name of 
Elliot's. Sir Adam also did, for the health of his own 
soul, and that of his wife Constantia, their predecessors and 
successors, grant to the prior and canons quiet possession 
of all the tenements and gardens, " curtillagia," which they 
had built and laid out on the lands in Selborne, on which 
he and his vassals, " homines," had undoubted right of 
common : and moreover did grant to the convent the 
full privilege of that right of common ; and empowered 
the religious to build tenements and make gardens along 
the king's highway in the village of Selborne. 

From circumstances put together it appears that the 
above were the first grants obtained by the Priory in the 
village of Selborne, after it had subsisted about thirty-nine 
years : moreover they explain the nature of the mixed 
manor still remaining in and about the village, where one 
field or tenement shall belong to Magdalen-college in the 
university of Oxford, and the next to Norton Powlet, esq., of 
Rotherfield house; and so down the whole street. The 
case was, that the whole was once the property of Gurdon, 
till he made his grants to the convent ; since which some 
belongs to the successors of Gurdon in the manor, and 
some to the college ; and this is the occasion of the strange 
jumble of property. It is remarkable that the tenement 
and crofts which Sir Adam reserved at the time of granting 
the Plestor should still remain a part of the Gurdon-manor, 
though so desirable an addition to the vicarage that is not 
as yet possessed of one inch of glebe at home : but of late, 
viz. in January 1785, Magdalen-college purchased that 
little estate, which is life-holding, in reversion, for the 
generous purpose of bestowing it, and its lands, being 
twelve acres (three of which abut on the church-yard and 
vicarage-garden) as an improvement hereafter to the living, 
and an eligible advantage to future incumbents. 


The year after Gurdon had bestowed the Plestor on the 
Priory, viz. in 1272, Henry III. king of England died, and 
was succeeded by his son Edward. This magnanimous 
prince continued his regard for Sir Adam, whom he 
esteemed as a brave man, and made him warden, " custos," 
of the forest of Wolmer. 1 Though little emolument 

1 Since the letters respecting Wolmer-forest and Ayles-holt, from p. 1 5 
to 26, were printed, the author has been favoured with the following 

In the "Act of Resumption, I Hen. VII." it was provided, that it be 
not prejudicial to " Harry at Lode, ranger of our forest of Wolmere, to 
him by oure letters patents before tyme gevyn." Rolls of Parl. Vol. VI. 

P- 37. 

In the 1 1 Hen. VII. 1495" Warlham [Wardleham] and the office of 
forest [forester] of Wolmere " were held by Edmund duke of Suffolk. 
Rolls, ib. 474. 

Act of general pardon, 14 Hen. VIII. 1523, not to extend to " Rich. 
Bp. of Wynton [bishop Fox] for any seizure or forfeiture of liberties, etc. 
within the forest of Wolmer, Alysholt, and Newe Forest; nor to any 
person for waste, etc. within the manor of Wardlam, or parish of Ward- 
lam [Wardleham ; ] nor to abusing, &c. of any office or fee, within the 
said forests of Wolmer or Alysholt, or the said park of Wardlam, County 
Suth't. Rolls prefixt to 1st Vol. of Journals of the Lords, p. xciii. b. 

To these may be added some other particulars, taken from a book 
lately published, entitled " An Account of all the Manors, Messuages, 
Lands, &c. in the different Counties of England and Wales, held by 
Lease from the Crown ; as contained in the Report of the Commissioners 
appointed to inquire into the State and Condition of the Royal Forests," 
etc. London, 1787. 

" Southampton." 

P. 64, "A fee- farm rent of 31 2s. lid. out of the manors of East 
and West Wardleham ; and also the office of lieutenant or keeper of the 
forest or chase of Aliceholt and Wolmer, with all offices, fees, commodities, 
and privileges thereto belonging. 

" Names of lessees, William earl of Dartmouth and others (in trust). 

"Date of the last lease, March 23, 1780; granted for such term as 
would fill up the subsisting term to 3 1 years. 

"Expiration March 23, 1811." 

" Appendix, No. III." 

" Southampton." 

" Hundreds, Selborne and Finchdeane." 
" Honours and manors," etc. 

" Aliceholt forest, three parks there. 

" Bensted and Kingsley ; a petition of the parishioners concerning the 
three parks in Aliceholt forest." 

William, first earl of Dartmouth, and paternal grandfather to the 


might hang to this appointment, yet there are reasons why 
it might be highly acceptable ; and, in a few reigns after, it 
was given to princes of the blood. 1 In old days gentry 
resided more at home on their estates, and, having fewer 
resources of elegant in-door amusement, spent most of 
their leisure hours in the field and the pleasures of the chase. 
A large domain, therefore, at little more than a mile 
distance, and well stocked with game, must have been a 
very eligible acquisition, affording him influence as well as 
entertainment ; and especially as the manerial house of 
Temple, by its exalted situation, could command a view of 
near two-thirds of the forest. 

That Gurdon, who had lived some years the life of an 
outlaw, and at the head of an army of insurgents, was, for 
a considerable time, in high rebellion against his sovereign, 
should have been guilty of some outrages, and should have 
committed some depredations, is by no means matter of 
wonder. Accordingly we find a distringas against him, 
ordering him to restore to the bishop of Winchester some 
of the temporalities of that see, which he had taken by 
violence and detained ; viz. some lands in Hocheleye, and 
a mill. 2 By a breve, or writ, from the king he is also 
enjoined to readmit the bishop of Winchester, and his 
tenants of the parish and town of Farnham, to pasture 
their horses, and other larger cattle, "averia," in the forest 
of Wolmer, as had been the usage from time immemorial. 
This writ is dated in the tenth year of the reign of Edward, 
viz. 1282. 

All the king's writs directed to Gurdon are addressed in 
the following manner : " Edwardus, Dei gratia, &c. dilecto 
et fideli suo Ade Gurdon salutem " ; and again, " Custodi 
foreste sue de Wolvemere." 

In the year 1293 a quarrel between the crews of an 

present lord Stawel, was a lessee of the forests of Aliceholt and Wolmer 
before brigadier-general Emanuel Scroope Howe. 

1 See Letter II. of these Antiquities. 

2 Hocheleye, now spelt Hawkley, is in the hundred of Selborne, and 
has a mill at this dav. 


English and a Norman ship, about some trifle, brought on 
by degrees such serious consequences, that in 1295 a war 
broke out between the two nations. The French king, 
Philip the Hardy, gained some advantages in Gascony; 
and, not content with those, threatened England with an 
invasion, and, by a sudden attempt, took and burnt Dover. 

Upon this emergency Edward sent a writ to Gurdon, 
ordering him and four others to enlist three thousand 
soldiers in the counties of Surrey, Dorset, and Wiltshire, 
able-bodied men, "tarn sagittare quam balistare potentes" : 
and to see that they were marched, by the feast of All 
Saints, to Winchelsea, there to be embarked aboard the 
king's transports. 

The occasion of this armament appears also from a 
summons to the bishop of Winchester to parliament, part 
of which I shall transcribe on account of the insolent 
menace which is said therein to have been denounced 
against the English language : " qualiter rex Franciae de 
terra nostra Gascon nos fraudulenter et cautelose decepit, 
earn nobis nequiter detinendo . . . vero predictis fraude 
et nequitia non contentus, ad expurgationem regni nostri 
classe maxima et bellatorum copiosa multitudine congregatis, 
cum quibus regnum nostrum et regni ejusdem incolas 
hostiliter jam invasurus, linguam Anglicam, si concepte 
iniquitatis proposito detestabili potestas correspondeat, 
quod Deus avertat, omnino de terra delere proponit." 
Dated 3Oth September, in the year of king Edward's 
reign xxiii. 1 

The above are the last traces that I can discover of 
Gurdon's appearing and acting in public. The first notice 
that my evidences give of him is, that, in 1232, being the 
1 6th of Henry III., he was the king's bailiff", with others, 
for the town of Alton. Now, from 1232 to 1295 * s a 
space of sixty-three years ; a long period for one man to 
be employed in active life ! Should any one doubt whether 
all these particulars can relate to one and the same person, 
I should wish him to attend to the following reasons why 

1 Reg. Wynton, Stratford, but query Stratford ; for Stratford was not 
bishop of Winton till 1323, near thirty years afterwards. 


they might. In the first place, the documents from the 
priory mention but one Sir Adam Gurdon, who had no son 
lawfully begotten : and in the next, we are to recollect that 
he must have probably been a man of uncommon vigour 
both of mind and body ; since no one, unsupported by 
such accomplishments, could have engaged in such adven- 
tures, or could have borne up against the difficulties which 
he sometimes must have encountered : and, moreover, we 
have modern instances of persons that have maintained 
their abilities for near that period. 

Were we to suppose Gurdon to be only twenty years of 
age in 1232, in 1295 he would be eighty-three ; after which 
advanced period it could not be expected that he should 
live long. From the silence, therefore, of my evidences it 
seems probable that this extraordinary person finished his 
life in peace, not long after, at his mansion of Temple. 
Gurdon's seal had for its device a man, with a helmet on 
his head, drawing a cross-bow ; the legend, " Sigillum Ade 
de Gurdon " ; his arms were, " Goulis, iii floures argent 
issant de testes de leopards." ] 

If the stout and unsubmitting spirit of Gurdon could be 
so much influenced by the belief and superstition of the 
times, much more might the hearts of his ladies and 
daughter. And accordingly we find that Ameria, by the 
consent and advice of her sons, though said to be all under 
age, makes a grant for ever of some lands down by the 
stream at Durton ; and also of her right of the common of 
Durton itself. 2 Johanna, the daughter and heiress of Sir 
Adam, was married, I find, to Richard Achard ; she also 
grants to the prior and convent lands and tenements in the 
village of Selborne, which her father obtained from Thomas 
Makerel ; and also all her goods and chattels in Selborne 
for the consideration of two hundred pounds sterling. 
This last business was transacted in the first year of 
Edward II. viz. 1307. It has been observed before that 

1 From the collection of Thomas Martin, Esq., in the Antiquarian 
Repertory, p. 109, No. XXXI. 

2 Durton, now called Dorton, is still a common for the copyholders of 
Selborne manor. 


Gurdon had a - natural son : this person was called by the 
name of John Dastard, alias Wastard, but more probably 
Bastard ; since bastardy in those days was not deemed any 
disgrace, though dastardy was esteemed the greatest. He 
was married to Gunnorie Duncun ; and had a tenement 
and some land granted him in Selborne by his sister 


THE Knights Templars, 1 who have been mentioned in a 
former letter, had considerable property in Selborne ; and 
also a preceptory at Sudington, now called Southington, a 
hamlet lying one mile to the east of the village. Bishop 
Tanner mentions only two such houses of the Templars in 


1 The Knights Hospitalars of St. John of Jerusalem, afterwards called 
Knights of Rhodes, now of Malta, came into England about the year 
1 100, I Hen. I. 

The Knights Templars came into England pretty early in Stephen's 
reign, which commenced 1135. The order was dissolved in 1312, and 
their estates given by act of Parliament to the Hospitalars in 1323 (all 
in Edw. II.), though many of their estates were never actually enjoyed 
by the said Hospitalars. Vid. Tanner, p. xxiv. x. 

The commandries of the Hospitalars, and preceptories of Templars, 
were each subordinate to the principal house of their respective religion 
in London. Although these are the different denominations, which 
Tanner at p. xxviii. assigns to the cells of these different orders, yet 
throughout the work very frequent instances occur of preceptories 
attributed to the Hospitalars ; and if in some passages of Notitia Monast. 
commandries are attributed to the Templars, it is only where the place 
afterwards became the property of the Hospitalars, and so is there 
indifferently styled preceptory or commandry; see p. 243, 263, 276, 
577, 678. But, to account for the first observed inaccuracy, it is prob- 
able the preceptories of the Templars, when given to the Hospitalars, 
were still vulgarly, however, called by their old name of preceptories ; 
whereas in propriety the societies of the Hospitalars were indeed (as has 
been said) commandries. And such deviation from the strictness of 
expression in this case might occasion those societies of Hospitalars also 
to be indifferently called preceptories, which had originally been vested 
in them, having never belonged to the Templars at all. See in Archer, 
p. 609. Tanner, p. 300, col. I, 720, note e. 


all the county of Southampton, viz. Godesfield, founded by 
Henry de Blois, bishop of Winchester, and South Badeisley, 
a preceptory of the Knights Templars, and afterwards of 
St. John of Jerusalem, valued at one hundred and eighteen 
pounds sixteen shillings and seven pence per annum. Here 
then was a preceptory unnoticed by antiquaries, between 
the village and Temple. Whatever the edifice of the 
preceptory might have been, it has long since been dilapi- 
dated ; and the whole hamlet contains now only one mean 
farm-house, though there were two in the memory of man. 
It has been usual for the religious of different orders to 
fall into great dissensions, and especially when they were 
near neighbours. Instances of this sort we have heard of 
between the monks of Canterbury ; and again between the 
old abbey of St. Swythun, and the comparatively new 
minster of Hyde in the city of Winchester. 1 These feuds 

It is observable that the very statute for the dissolution of the 
Hospitalars holds the same language; for there, in the enumeration of 
particulars, occur " commandries, preceptories." Codex, p. 1190. Now 
this intercommunity of names, and that in an act of parliament too, 
made some of our ablest antiquaries look upon a preceptory and com- 
mandry as strictly synonymous; accordingly we find Camden, in his 
Britannia, explaining praeceptoria in the text by a commandry in the 
margin, p. 356, 510. J. L. 

Commandry, a manor or chief messuage with lands, etc. belonging to 
the priory of St. John of Jerusalem; and he who had the government of 
such house was called the commander, who could not dispose of it but 
to the use of the priory, only taking thence his own sustenance, according 
to his degree, who was usually a brother of the same priory. Cowell. 
He adds (confounding these with preceptories) they are in many places 
termed Temples, as Temple Bruere in Lincolnshire, etc. Preceptories 
were possessed by the more eminent sort of Templars, whom the chief 
master created and called Praeceptores Templi. Cowell, who refers to 
Stephens de Jurisd. lib. 4, c. 10, num. 27. 

Placita de juratis et assis coram Salom. de Roff et sociis suis justic. 
Itiner. apud Wynton. etc. anno regni R. Edward! fil. Reg. Hen. octavo. 
" et Magr. Milicie Templi in Angl. ht emendasse panis, & suis [cere- 
visiae] in Sodington, & nescint q. war. et et magist. Milicie Templi 
non ven io distr." Chapter-house, Westminster. 

Notitia Monastica, p. 155. 

1 " Winchester, Newminster. King Alfred founded here first only a 
house and chapel for the learned monk Grimbald, whom he had brought 
out of Flanders : but afterwards projected, and by his will ordered, a 


arose probably from different orders being crowded within 
the narrow limits of a city, or garrison-town, where every 
inch of ground was precious, and an object of contention. 
But with us, as far as my evidences extend, and while 
Robert Saunford was master, 1 and Richard Carpenter was 
preceptor, the Templars and the Priors lived in an inter- 
course of mutual good offices. 

My papers mention three transactions, the exact time of 
which cannot be ascertained, because they fell out before 
dates were usually inserted ; though probably they hap- 
pened about the middle of the thirteenth century; not 
long after Saunford became master. The first of these is 
that the Templars shall pay to the priory of Selborne, 
annually, the sum of ten shillings at two half yearly 
payments from their chamber, " camera," at Sudington, 
" per manum preceptoris, vel ballivi nostri, qui pro tempore 
fuerit ibidem," till they can provide the prior and canons 
with an equivalent in lands or rents within four or five 
miles of the said convent. It is also further agreed that, 
if the Templars shall be in arrears for one year, that then 

noble church or religious house to be built in the cemetery on the 
north side of the old minster or cathedral ; and designed that Grimbald 
should preside over it. This was begun A.D. 901, and finished to the 
honour of the Holy Trinity, Virgin Mary, and St. Peter, by his son 
king Edward, who placed therein secular canons: but A.D. 963 they were 
expelled, and an abbot and monks put in possession by bishop Ethelwold. 

" Now the churches and habitations of these two societies being so 
very near together, the differences which were occasioned by their 
singing, bells, and other matters, arose to so great a height, that the 
religious of the new monastery thought fit, about A.D. 1119, to remove 
to a better and more quiet situation without the walls, on the north 
part of the city called HYDE, where king Henry I. at the instance of 
Will. GifFord, bishop of Winton, founded a stately abbey for them. 
St. Peter was generally accounted patron ; though it is sometimes called 
the monastery of St. Grimbald, and sometimes of St. Barnabas," etc. 

Note. A few years since a county bridewell, or house of correction, 
has been built on the immediate site of Hide Abbey. In digging up 
the old foundations the workmen found the head of a crosier in good 

1 Robert Saunforde was master of the Temple in 1241 ; Guido de 
Foresta was the next in 1292. The former is fifth in a list of the 
masters in a MS. Bib. Cotton. Nero. E. VI. 


the prior shall be empowered to distrain upon their live 
stock in Bradeseth. The next matter was a grant from 
Robert de Saunford to the priory for ever, of a good and 
sufficient road, " cheminum," capable of admitting car- 
riages, and proper for the drift of their larger cattle, 
from the way which extends from Sudington towards 
Blakemere, on to the lands which the convent possesses in 

The third transaction (though for want of dates we 
cannot say which happened first and which last) was a 
grant from Robert Samford to the priory of a tenement 
and its appurtenances in the village of Selborne, given to 
the Templars by Americus de Vasci. 1 This property, by 
the manner of describing it, " totum tenementum cum 
omnibus pertinentiis suis, scilicet in terris, & hominibus, in 
pratis & pascuis, & nemoribus," etc. seems to have been 
no inconsiderable purchase, and was sold for two hundred 
marks sterling, to be applied for the buying of more land 
for the support of the holy war. 

Prior John is mentioned as the person to whom Vasci's 
land is conveyed. But in Willis's list there is no prior 
John till 1339, several years after the dissolution of the 
order of the Templars in 1312; so that unless Willis is 
wrong, and has omitted a prior John since 1262 (that 
being the date of his first prior) these transactions must 
have fallen out before that date. 

I find not the least traces of any concerns between 
Gurdon and the Knights Templars ; but probably after his 
death his daughter Johanna might have, and might bestow, 
Temple on that order in support of the holy land : and, 
moreover, she seems to have been moving from Selborne 
when she sold her goods and chattels to the priory, as 
mentioned above. 

Temple no doubt did belong to the knights, as may be 
asserted, not only from its name, but also from another 

1 Americus Vasci, by his name, must have been an Italian, and had 
been probably a soldier of fortune, and one of Gurdon's captains. 
Americus Vespucio, the person who gave name to the new world was a 



corroborating circumstance of its being still a manor tithe- 
free ; "for, by virtue of their order," says Dr. Blackstone, 
"the lands of the Knights Templars were privileged by 
the pope with a discharge from tithes." 

Antiquaries have been much puzzled about the terms 
preceptores and preceptorium^ not being able to determine 
what officer or edifice was meant. But perhaps all the 
while the passage quoted above from one of my papers 
" per manum preceptoris vel ballivi nostri, qui pro tempore 
fuerit ibidem," may help to explain the difficulty. For if 
it be allowed here that preceptor and ballivus are synony- 
mous words, then the brother who took on him that 
office resided in the house of the Templars at Sudington, 
a preceptory ; where he was their preceptor, superintended 
their affairs, received their money ; and, as in the instance 
there mentioned, paid from their chamber, " camera," as 
directed : so that, according to this explanation, a preceptor 
was no other than a steward, and a preceptorium was his 
residence. I am well aware that, according to strict Latin, 
the vel should have been seu or sive, and the order of the 
words " preceptoris nostri, vel ballivi, qui" et " ibidem " 
should have been ibi\ ibidem necessarily having reference 
to two or more persons : but it will hardly be thought fair 
to apply the niceties of classic rules to the Latinity of the 
thirteenth century, the writers of which seem to have aimed 
at nothing farther than to render themselves intelligible. 

There is another remark that we have made, which, I 
think, corroborates what has been advanced ; and that is, 
that Richard Carpenter, preceptor of Sudington, at the 
time of the transactions between the Templars and Selborne 
Priory, did always sign last as a witness in the three deeds: 
he calls himself frater, it is true, among many other 
brothers, but subscribes with a kind of deference, as if, for 
the time being, his office rendered him an inferior in the 
community. 1 

1 In two or three ancient records relating to St. Oswald's hospital in 
the city of Worcester, printed by Dr. Nash, p. 227 and 228, of his 
collections for the history of Worcestershire, the words preceptorium and 
preceptoria signify the mastership of the said hospital: "ad preceptorium 



THE ladies and daughter of Sir Adam Gurdon were not 
the only benefactresses to the Priory of Selborne ; for, in 
the year 1281, Ela Longspee obtained masses to be per- 
formed for her soul's health ; and the prior entered into 
an engagement that one of the convent should every day 
say a special mass for ever for the said benefactress, whether 
living or dead. She also engaged within five years to pay 
to the said convent one hundred marks of silver for the 
support of a chantry and chantry-chaplain, who should 
perform his masses daily in the parish church of Selborne. 1 
In the east end of the south aisle there are two sharp- 
pointed gothic niches ; one of these probably was the 
place under which these masses were performed ; and 
there is the more reason to suppose as much, because, 
till within these thirty years, this space was fenced off with 
gothic wooden railing, and was known by the name of the 
south chancel. 2 

sive magisterium presentavit preceptorii sive magisterii patronus. Va- 
cavit dicta preceptoria seu magisterium ad preceptoriam et regimen 
dicti hospitalis Te preceptorem sive magistrum prefecimus." 

Where preeeptorium denotes a building or apartment it may probably 
mean the master's lodgings, or at least the preceptor's apartment, what- 
soever may have been the office or employment of the said preceptor. 

A preceptor is mentioned in Thoresby's Ducatus Leodinensis, or 
History of Leeds, p. 225, and a deed witnessed by the preceptor and 
chaplain before dates were inserted. Du Fresne's Supplement : " Pre- 
ceptoriae, praedia preceptoribus assignata." Cowell, in his Law 
Dictionary enumerates sixteen preceptoriae, or preceptories, in England ; 
but Sudington is not among them. It is remarkable that Gurtlerus, in 
his Historia Templariorum, Amstel. 1691, never once mentions the 
words preceptor or preeeptorium. 

1 A chantry was a chapel joined to some cathedral or parish church, 
and endowed with annual revenues for the maintenance of one or more 
priests to sing mass daily for the soul of the founder, and others. 

2 For what is said more respecting this chantry see Letter III. of these 
Antiquities. Mention is made of a Nicholas Langrish, capellanus de 
Selborne, in the time of Henry VIII. Was he chantry-chaplain to Ela 
Longspee, whose masses were probably continued to the time of the 
reformation ? More will be said of this person hereafter. 


The solicitude expressed by the donor plainly shows her 
piety and firm persuasion of the efficacy of prayers for the 
dead ; for she seems to have made every provision for the 
payment of the sum stipulated within the appointed time ; 
and to have felt much anxiety lest her death, or the 
neglect of her executors or assigns, might frustrate her 
intentions. " Et si contingat me in solucione predicte 
pecunie annis predictis in parte aut in toto deficere, quod 
absit ; concede et oblige pro me et assignatis meis, quod 

Vice-Comes Oxon et qui pro tempore fuerint, 

per omnes terras et tenementa, et omnia bona mea mobilia 
et immobilia ubicunque in balliva sua fuerint inventa ad 
solucionem predictam faciendam possent nos compellere." 
And again " Et si contingat dictos religiosos labores 
seu expensas facere circa predictam pecuniam, seu 
circa partem dicte pecunie ; volo quod dictorum religios- 
orum impense et labores levantur ita quod predicto priori 
vel uni canonicorum suorum super : hiis simplici verbo 
credatur sine alterius honore probacionis ; et quod utrique 
predictorum virorum in unam marcam argenti pro cujus- 
libet distrincione super me facienda tenear. Dat. apud 
Wareborn die sabati proxima ante festum St. Marci evange- 
liste, anno regni regis Edwardi tertio decimo." l 

But the reader perhaps would wish to be better informed 
respecting this benefactress, of whom as yet he has heard 
no particulars. 

The Ela Longspee therefore above-mentioned was a 
lady of high birth and rank, and became countess to 
Thomas de Newburgh, the sixth earl of Warwick : she 
was the second daughter of the famous Ela Longspee, 
countess of Salisbury, by William Longspee, natural son 
of king Henry II. by Rosamond. 

Our lady, following the steps of her illustrious mother, 2 

1 Ancient deeds are often dated on a Sunday, having been executed in 
churches and church-yards for the sake of notoriety, and for the con- 
veniency of procuring several witnesses to attest. 

2 Ela Longspee, countess of Salisbury, in 1232 founded a monastery at 
Lacock, in the county of Wilts, and also another at Hendon, in the 
county of Somerset, in her widowhood, to the honour of the Blessed 
Virgin and St. Bernard. CAMDEN. 


" was a great benefactress to the university of Oxford, to 
the canons of Oseney, the nuns of Godstow, and other 
religious houses in Oxfordshire. She died very aged in the 
year 1 3OO, 1 and was buried before the high altar in the abbey 
church of Oseney, at the head of the tomb of Henry D'Oily, 
under a flat marble, on which was inlaid her portraiture, 
in the habit of a vowess, engraved on a copper-plate. "- 
Edmonson's History and Genealogical Account of the 
Grevilles, p. 23. 


THE reader is here presented with five forms respecting 
the choosing of a prior ; but as they are of some length 
they must be reserved for the Appendix ; their titles 
are No. 108. " Charta petens licentiam elegendi prelatum 
a Domino episcopo Wintoniensi " : " Forma licentie 
concesse": "Forma decreti post electionem conficiendi " : 
108. "Modus procedendi ad electionem per formam 
scrutinii " : et "Forma ricte presentandi electum." Such 
evidences are rare and curious, and throw great light upon 
the general monastico-ecclesiastical history of this king- 
dom, not yet sufficiently understood. 

In the year 1324 there was an election for a prior at 
Selborne ; when some difficulties occurring, and a devolu- 
tion taking place, application was made to Stratford, who 
was bishop of Winchester at that time, and of course 
the visitor and patron of the convent at the spot above- 
mentioned. 2 

An extract from REG. STRATFORD. Winton. 
P. 4. " Commissio facta sub-priori de Selebourne " by 
the bishop enjoining him to preserve the discipline of 

'Thus she survived the foundation of her chantry at Selborne fifteen 
years. About this lady and her mother consult Dugdale's Baronage, I. 
72, 175, 177. Dugdale's Warwickshire, I. 383, Leland's Itin. II. 45. 

2 Stratford was bishop of Winchester from 1 323 to 1333, when he was 
translated to Canterbury. 


the order in the" convent during the vacancy made by the 
late death of the prior (" super pastoris solatio destituta"), 
dated 4 th kal. Maii. ann. 2 do sc. of his consecration, 
[sc. 1324.] 

P. 6. " Custodia Prioratus de Seleburne vacantis," 

committed by the bishop to Nicholas de la , a layman, 

it belonging to the bishop " ratione vacationis ejusdem," 
in July 1324, ibid. " negotium electionis de Selebourne. 
Acta coram Johanne Episcopo, &c. 1324 in negotio 
electionis de fratre Waltero de Insula concanonico prior- 
atus de Selebourne," lately elected by the sub-prior and 
convent, by way of scrutiny : that it appeared to the 
bishop, by certificate from the dean of Alton, that solemn 
citation and proclamation had been made in the church of 
the convent where the election was held, that any who 
opposed the said election or elected should appear. Some 
difficulties were started, which the bishop over-ruled, and 
confirmed the election, and admitted the new prior sub 
hac forma : 

"In Dei nomine Amen. Ego Johannes permissione 
divina, &c. te Walterum de Insula ecclesie de Selebourne 
nostre dioceseos nostrique patronatus vacantis, canonicum 
et cantorem, virum utique providum, et discretum, liter- 
arum scientia preditum, vita moribus et conversatione 
merito commendatum, in ordine sacerdotali et etate 
legitima constitutum, de legitimo matrimonio procreatum, 
in ordine et religione Sancti Augustini de Selebourne 
expresse professum, in spiritualibus et temporalibus cir- 
cumspectum, jure nobis hac vice devoluto in hac parte, 
in dicte ecclesie de Selebourne perfectum priorem ; curam 
et administrationem ejusdem tibi in spiritualibus et tem- 
poralibus committentes. Dat. apud Selebourne XIII 
kalend. Augusti anno supradicto." 

There follows an order to the sub-prior and convent 
pro obedientia : 

A mandate to Nicholas above-named to release the 
Priory to the new prior : 

A mandate for the induction of the new prior. 



"!N the year 1373 Wykeham, bishop of Winchester, held 
a visitation of his whole diocese ; not only of the secular 
clergy through the several deaneries, but also of the 
monasteries, and religious houses of all sorts, which he 
visited in person. The next year he sent his commissioners 
with power to correct and reform the several irregularities 
and abuses which he had discovered in the course of his 

" Some years afterward, the bishop having visited three 
several times all the religious houses throughout his diocese, 
and being well informed of the state and condition of each, 
and of the particular abuses which required correction and 
reformation, besides the orders which he had already given, 
and the remedies which he had occasionally applied by his 
commissioners, now issued his injunctions to each of them. 
They were accommodated to their several exigencies, and 
intended to correct the abuses introduced, and to recall 
them all to a strict observation of the rules of their 
respective orders. Many of these injunctions are still 
extant, and are evident monuments of the care and 
attention with which he discharged this part of his 
episcopal duty." 1 

Some of these injunctions I shall here produce ; and they 
are such as will not fail, I think, to give satisfaction to the 
antiquary, both as never having been published before, and 
as they are a curious picture of monastic irregularities at 
that time. 

The documents that I allude to are contained in the 
Notabilis Visitatio de Seleburne, held at the Priory of that 
place, by Wykeham in person, in the year 1387. 

This evidence, in the original, is written on two skins of 

parchment; the one large, and the other smaller, and 

consists of a preamble, 36 items, and a conclusion, which 

altogether evince the patient investigation of the visitor, 

1 See Lowth's Life of Wykeham. 


for which he had always been so remarkable in all matters 
of moment, and how much he had at heart the regularity 
of those institutions, of whose efficacy in their prayers for 
the dead he was so firmly persuaded. As the bishop was 
so much in earnest, we may be assured that he had nothing 
in view but to correct and reform what he found amiss ; 
and was under no bias to blacken, or misrepresent, as the 
commissioners of Thomas Lord Cromwell seem in part to 
have done at the time of the reformation. 1 We may 
therefore with reason suppose that the bishop gives us an 
exact delineation of the morals and manners of the canons 
of Selborne at that juncture ; and that what he found they 
had omitted he enjoins them ; and for what they had done 
amiss, and contrary to their rules and statutes, he reproves 
them ; and threatens them with punishment suitable to 
their irregularities. 

This visitatio is of considerable length, and cannot be 
introduced into the body of this work ; we shall therefore 
refer the reader to the Appendix, where he will find every 
particular, while we shall take some notice, and make some 
remarks, on the most singular items as they occur. 

In the preamble the visitor says " Considering the 
charge lying upon us, that your blood may not be required 
at our hands, we came down to visit your Priory, as our 
office required : and every time we repeated our visitation 
we found something still not only contrary to regular rules 
but also repugnant to religion and good reputation." 

In the first article after the preamble " he commands 
them on their obedience, and on pain of the greater 
excommunication, to see that the canonical hours by night 
and by day be sung in their choir, and the masses of the 
Blessed Mary, and other accustomed masses, be celebrated 
at the proper hours with devotion, and at moderate pauses; 
and that it be not allowed to any to absent themselves from 
the hours and masses, or to withdraw before they are 

Item 2d. He enjoins them to observe that silence to 

1 Letters of this sort from Dr. Layton to Thomas Lord Cromwell are 
still extant. 


which they are so strictly bound by the rule of Saint 
Augustine at stated times, and wholly to abstain from 
frivolous conversation. 

Item 4th. " Not to permit such frequent passing of 
secular people of both sexes through their convent, as if a 
thoroughfare, from whence many disorders may and have 

Item 5th. " To take care that the doors of their church 
and Priory be so attended to that no suspected and dis- 
orderly females, ' suspectae et aliae inhonestae,' pass through 
their choir and cloister in the dark " ; and to see that the 
doors of their church between the nave and the choir, and 
the gates of their cloister opening into the fields, be 
constantly kept shut until their first choir-service is over 
in the morning, at dinner time, and when they meet at 
their evening collation. 1 

Item 6th mentions that several of the canons are found 
to be very ignorant and illiterate, and enjoins the prior to 
see that they be better instructed by a proper master. 

Item 8th. The canons are here accused of refusing to 
accept of their statutable clothing year by year, and of 
demanding a certain specified sum of money, as if it were 
their annual rent and due. This the bishop forbids, and 
orders that the canons shall be clothed out of the revenue 
of the Priory, and the old garments be laid by in a 
chamber, and given to the poor, according to the rule of 
Saint Augustine. 

In Item 9th is a complaint that some of the canons are 
given to wander out of the precincts of the convent without 
leave ; and that others ride to their manors and farms, 
under pretence of inspecting the concerns of the society, 
when they please, and stay as long as they please. But 
they are enjoined never to stir either about their own 
private concerns or the business of the convent without 
leave from the prior : and no canon is to go alone, but to 
have a grave brother to accompany him. 

The injunction in Item loth, at this distance of time, 
appears rather ludicrous ; but the visitor seems to be very 

1 A Collation was a meal or repast on a fast day in lieu of a supper. 


serious on the occasion, and says that it has been evidently 
proved to him that some of the canons, living dissolutely 
after the flesh, and not after the spirit, sleep naked in their 
beds without their breeches and shirts, "absque femoralibus 
et camisiis." 1 He enjoins that these culprits shall be 
punished by severe fasting, especially if they shall be found 
to be faulty a third time ; and threatens the prior and sub- 
prior with suspension if they do not correct this enormity. 

In Item nth the good bishop is very wroth with some 
of the canons, whom he finds to be professed hunters and 
sportsmen, keeping hounds, and publicly attending hunting- 
matches. These pursuits, he says, occasion much dissipa- 
tion, danger to the soul and body, and frequent expense ; 
he, therefore, wishing to extirpate this vice wholly from 
the convent, " radicibus extirpare," does absolutely enjoin 
the canons never intentionally to be present at any public 
noisy tumultuous huntings ; or to keep any hounds, by 
themselves or by others, openly or by stealth, within the 
convent, or without. 2 

In Item nth he forbids the canons in office to make 
their business a plea for not attending the service of 
the choir; since by these means either divine worship is 
neglected or their brother-canons are over-burdened. 

By Item I4th we are informed that the original number 
of canons at the Priory of Selborne was fourteen ; but 
that at this visitation they were found to be let down 
to eleven. The visitor therefore strongly and earnestly 
enjoins them that, with all due speed and diligence, they 
should proceed to the election of proper persons to fill up 
the vacancies, under pain of the greater excommunication. 

: The rule alluded to in Item loth, of not sleeping naked, was enjoined 
the Knights Templars, who also were subject to the rules of St. Augustine. 
See Gurtleri Hist. Templariorum. 

2 Considering the strong propensity in human nature towards the 
pleasures of the chase, it is not to be wondered that the canons of 
Selborne should languish after hunting, when, from their situation so 
near the precincts of Wolmer-forest, the king's hounds must have been 
often in hearing, and sometimes in sight from their windows. If the 
bishop was so offended at these sporting canons, what would he have said 
to our modern fox-hunting divines ? 


In Item iyth the prior and canons are accused of 
suffering, through neglect, notorious dilapidations to take 
place among their manerial houses and tenements, and 
in the walls and enclosures of the convent itself, to the 
shame and scandal of the institution ; they are therefore 
enjoined, under pain of suspension, to repair all defects 
within the space of six months. 

Item 1 8th charges them with grievously burthening the 
said Priory by means of sales, and grants of liveries 1 
and corrodies. 2 

The bishop, in Item I9th, accuses the canons of neglect 
and omission with respect to their perpetual chantry- 

Item 2oth. The visitor here conjures the prior and 
canons not to withhold their original alms, " eleemosynas " ; 
nor those that they were enjoined to distribute for the 
good of the souls of founders and benefactors : he also 
strictly orders that the fragments and broken victuals, 
both from the hall of their prior and their common 
refectory, should be carefully collected together by their 
ekemosynarius, and given to the poor without any diminu- 
tion ; the officer to be suspended for neglect or omission. 

Item 23d. He bids them distribute their pittances, 
" pitancias, " 3 regularly on obits, anniversaries, festivals, etc. 

Item 25th. All and every one of the canons are here- 
by inhibited from standing godfather to any boy for the 
future, " ne compatres alicujus pueri de cetero fieri 
presumatis," unless by express license from the bishop 

1 " Liberationes, or liberaturae\ allowances of corn, etc. to servants 
delivered at certain times, and in certain quantities, as clothes were 
among the allowances from religious houses to their dependants. See 
the corrodies granted by Croyland abbey." Hist, of Croyland, Appen- 
dix, No. XXXIV. 

" It is not improbable that the word in after-ages came to be con- 
fined to the uniform of the retainers or servants of the great, who were 
hence called livery servants." Sir John Cullum's Hist, of Hawsted. 

2 A corrody is an allowance to a servant living in an abbey or priory. 

3 " Pitancia, an allowance of bread and beer, or other provision to any 
pious use, especially to the religious in a monastery, etc. for augmenta- 
tion of their commons." Gloss, to Kennet's Par. Antiq. 


obtained; because from such relationship favour and 
affection, nepotism, and undue influence, arise, to the 
injury and detriment of religious institutions. 1 

Item 26th. The visitor herein severely reprimands the 
canons for appearing publicly in what would be called in 
the universities an unstatutable manner, and for wearing 

of boots, " caligae de Burneto, et sotularium in 

ocrearum loco, ad modum sotularium." 2 

It is remarkable that the bishop expresses more warmth 
against this than any other irregularity ; and strictly 
enjoins them, under pain of ecclesiastical censures, and 
even imprisonment if necessary (a threat not made use of 
before), for the future to wear boots, " ocreis seu botis," 
according to the regular usage of their ancient order. 

Item 29th. He here again, but with less earnestness, 
forbids them foppish ornaments, and the affectation of 
appearing like beaux with garments edged with cosdy furs, 
with fringed gloves, and silken girdles trimmed with gold 
and silver. It is remarkable that no punishment is 
annexed to this injunction. 

1 " The relationship between sponsors and their god-children, who 
were called spiritual sons and daughters, was formerly esteemed much 
more sacred than at present. The presents at christenings were some- 
times very considerable: the connection lasted through life, and was 
closed with a legacy. This last mark of attention seems to have been 
thought almost indispensable : for, in a will, from whence no extracts 
have been given, the testator left every one of his god-children a bushel 
of barley." Sir John Cullum's Hist, of Hawsted. 

"D. Margaretae filiae Regis primogenitae, quam filiolam, quia ejus in 
baptismo compater fuit, appellat, cyphum aureum et quadraginta libras, 
legavit." Archbishop Parker de Antiquitate Eccles. Brit, speaking of 
Archbishop Morton. 

2 Du Fresne is copious on caligae of several sorts. " Hoc item de 
Clericis, presertim beneficiatis : caligis scacatis (chequered) rubeis, et 
viridibus publice utentibus dicimus esse censendum." Statut. Eccles. 
Tutel. The chequered boots seem to be the highland plaid stockings. 
"Burnetum, i.e. Brunetum, pannus non ex lana nativi coloris confectus." 
"Sotularium, i.e. subtalaris quia sub talo est. Peculium genus, quibus 
maxime Monachi nocte utebantur in aestate : in hyeme vero Soccis." 

This writer gives many quotations concerning Sotu/aria, which were 
not to be made too shapely; nor were the caligae to be laced on too 


Item 3 1 st. He here singly and severally forbids each 
canon not admitted to a cure of souls to administer 
extreme unction, or the sacrament, to clergy or laity; 
or to perform the service of matrimony, till he has 
taken out the license of the parish priest. 

Item 32d. The bishop says in this item that he had 
observed and found, in his several visitations, that the 
sacramental plate and cloths of the altar, surplices, etc. 
were sometimes left in such an uncleanly and disgusting 
condition as to make the beholders shudder with horror ; 
"quod aliquibus sunt horrori"; 1 he therefore enjoins 
them for the future to see that the plate, cloths, and 
vestments, be kept bright, clean, and in decent order : 
and, what must surprise the reader, adds that he expects 
for the future that the sacrist should provide for the 
sacrament good wine, pure and unadulterated ; and not, 
as had often been the practice, that which was sour, 
and tending to decay: he says farther, that it seems 
quite preposterous to omit in sacred matters that attention 
to decent cleanliness, the neglect of which would disgrace 
a common convivial meeting. 2 

Item 33d says that, though the relics of saints, the plate, 
holy vestments, and books of religious houses, are for- 
bidden by canonical institutes to be pledged or lent out 
upon pawn ; yet, as the visitor finds this to be the case 
in his several visitations, he therefore strictly enjoins the 
prior forthwith to recall those pledges, and to restore 
them to the convent ; and orders that all the papers and 

1<( Men abhorred the offering of the Lord." I Sam. chap. ii. v. 17. 
Strange as this account may appear to modern delicacy, the author, when 
first in orders, twice met with similar circumstances attending the sacra- 
ment at two churches belonging to two obscure villages. In the first he 
found the inside of the chalice covered with birds' dung; and in the 
other the communion-cloth soiled with cabbage and the greasy drippings 
of a gammon of bacon. The good dame at the great farm-house, who 
was to furnish the cloth, being a notable woman, thought it best to save 
her clean linen, and so sent a foul cloth that had covered her own table 
for two or three Sundays before. 

2 " ne turpe toral, ne sordida mappa 

Corruget nares ; ne non et cantharus, et lanx 
Ostendat tibi te " 


title deeds thereto belonging should be safely deposited, 
and kept under three locks and keys. 

In the course of the Visitatio Notabilis the constitutions 
of Legate Ottobonus are frequently referred to. Otto- 
bonus was afterwards Pope Adrian V. and died in 1276. 
His constitutions are in Lyndewood's Provinciale, and were 
drawn up in the 52d of Henry III. 

In the Visitatio Notabilis the usual punishment is fasting 
on bread and beer ; and in cases of repeated delinquency 
on bread and water. On these occasions quarta feria, et 
sexto, feria, are mentioned often, and are to be understood 
of the days of the week numerically on which such 
punishment is to be inflicted. 


THOUGH bishop Wykeham appears somewhat stern and 
rigid in his visitatorial character towards the Priory of 
Selborne, yet he was on the whole a liberal friend and 
benefactor to that convent, which, like every other society 
or individual that fell in his way, partook of the generosity 
and benevolence of that munificent prelate. 

"In the year 1377 William of Wykeham, out of his 
mere good will and liberality, discharged the whole debts 
of the prior and convent of Selborne, to the amount of 
one hundred and ten marks eleven shillings and sixpence ; l 
and, a few years before he died, he made a free gift of one 
hundred marks to the same Priory : on which account the 
Prior and convent voluntarily engaged for the celebration 
of two masses a day by two canons of the convent for ten 
years, for the bishop's welfare, if he should live so long ; 
and for his soul if he should die before the expiration of 
this term." 2 

1 Yet in ten years time we find, by the Notabilis Visitatio, that all their 
relics, plate, vestments, title-deeds, etc. were in pawn. 
2 Lowth's Life of Wykeham. 


At this distance of time it seems matter of great wonder 
to us how these societies, so nobly endowed, and whose 
members were exempt by their very institution from every 
means of personal and family expense, could possibly run 
in debt without squandering their revenues in a manner 
incompatible with their function. 

Religious houses might sometimes be distressed in their 
revenues by fires among their buildings, or large dilapi- 
dations from storms, etc. ; but no such accident appears 
to have befallen the Priory at Selborne. Those situate on 
public roads, or in great towns, where there were shrines 
of saints, were liable to be intruded on by travellers, 
devotees, and pilgrims ; and were subject to the impor- 
tunity of the poor, who swarmed at their gates to partake 
of doles and broken victuals. Of these disadvantages 
some convents used to complain, and especially those at 
Canterbury; but this Priory, from its sequestered situation, 
could seldom be subject to either of these inconveniences, 
and therefore we must attribute its frequent debts and 
embarrassments, well endowed as it was, to the bad conduct 
of its members, and a general inattention to the interests 
of the institution. 


BEAUFORT was bishop of Winchester from 1405 to 1447; 
and yet, notwithstanding this long episcopate, only torn. 
I. of Beaufort's Register is to be found. This loss is much 
to be regretted, as it must unavoidably make a gap in the 
history of Selborne Priory, and perhaps in the list of its 

In 1410 there was an election for a prior, and again in 

In vol. I. p. 24, of Beaufort's Register, is the instrument 
of the election of John Winchestre to be prior the sub- 
stance as follows : 

Richard Elstede, senior canon, signifies to the bishop 


that brother Thomas Weston, the late prior, died October 
1 8th, 1410, and was buried November nth. That the 
bishop's license to elect having been obtained, he and the 
whole convent met in the chapter-house, on the same day, 
about the hour of vespers, to consider of the election : 
that brother John Wynchestre, then sub-prior, with the 
general consent appointed the I2th of November, ad horam 
ejusdem diei capitularem, for the business : when they met 
in the chapter-house, post missam de sancto Spiritu, solemnly 
celebrated in the church ; to wit, Richard Elstede ; 
Thomas Halyborne ; John Lemyngton, sacrista; John 
Stepe, cantor ; Walter Ffarnham ; Richard Putworth, 
celerarius ; Hugh London ; Henry Brampton, alias Bromp- 
ton; John Wynchestre, senior; John Wynchestre, junior; 
then "Proposito primitus verbo Dei," and then ympno 
"Veni Creator Spiritus" being solemnly sung, cum "ver- 
siculo et oratione," as usual, and his letter of license, with 
the appointment of the hour and place of election, being 
read, alta voce, in valvis of the chapter-house ; John 
Wynchestre, senior, the sub-prior, in his own behalf and 
that of all the canons, and by their mandate, "quasdam 
monicionem et protestacionem in scriptis redactas fecit, 
legit, et interposuit" that all persons disqualified, or not 
having right to be present, should immediately withdraw ; 
and protesting against their voting, etc. that then having 
read the constitution of the general council "Quia propter," 
and explained the modes of proceeding to election, they 
agreed unanimously to proceed "per viam seu formam 
simplicis compromissi " ; when John Wynchestre, sub- 
prior, and all the others (the commissaries under-named 
excepted) named and chose brothers Richard Elstede, 
Thomas Halyborne, John Lemyngton the sacrist, John 
Stepe, chantor, and Richard Putworth, canons, to be com- 
missaries, who were sworn each to nominate and elect a fit 
person to be prior : and empowered by letters patent 
under the common seal, to be in force only until the 
darkness of the night of the same day ; that they, or the 
greater part of them, should elect for the whole convent, 
within the limited time, from their own number, or from 


the rest of the convent ; that one of them should publish 
their consent in common before the clergy and people : 
they then all promised to receive as prior the person these 
five canons should fix on. These commissaries seceded 
from the chapter-house to the refectory of the Priory, and 
were shut in with master John Penkester, bachelor of laws; 
and John Couke and John Lynne, perpetual vicars of the 
parish churches of Newton and Selborne ; and with Samp- 
son Maycock, a public notary ; where they treated of the 
election ; when they unanimously agreed on John Wyn- 
chestre, and appointed Thomas Halyborne, to choose him 
in common for all, and to publish the election, as customary; 
.and returned long before it was dark to the chapter-house, 
where Thomas Halyborne read publicly the instrument of 
election ; when all the brothers, the new prior excepted, 
singing solemnly the hymn " Te Deum laudamus/'/^ww?/ 
deportari novum electum, by some of the brothers, from 
the chapter-house to the high altar of the church ; x and 
the hymn being sung, dictisque versicuto et oratiom consuetis 
in hac parte, Thomas Halyborne, mox tune ibidem, before 
the clergy and people of both sexes solemnly published the 
election in vulgari. Then Richard Elstede, and the whole 
convent by their proctors and nuncios appointed for the 
purposes, Thomas Halyborne and John Stepe required 
several times the assent of the elected ; " et tandem post 
diutinas interpellationes, et deliberationem providam penes 
se habitam, in hac parte divine nolens, ut asseruit, resistere 
voluntati," within the limited time he signified his accep- 
tance in the usual written form of words. The bishop is 
then supplicated to confirm their election, and do the need- 
ful, under common seal, in chapter-house. November 14, 

The bishop, January 6, 1410, apud Esher in camera infe- 
riori, declared the election duly made, and ordered the new 
prior to be inducted for this the archdeacon of Win- 

1 It seems here as if the canons used to chair their new elected prior 
from the chapter-house to the high altar of their convent-church. In 
letter XXI., on the same occasion, it is said "et sic canentes dictum 
electum ad majus altare ecclesie deduximus, ut apud nos moris est." 


Chester was written to ; " stallumque in choro, et locum in 
capitulo juxta morem preteriti temporis," to be assigned 
him ; and every thing beside necessary to be done. 


P. 2. Taxatio spiritualis Decanatus de Aulton, Ecclesia 
de Selebourn, cum Capella, xxx marc, decima x lib. iii 
sol. Vicaria de Selebourn non taxatur propter exilitatem. 

P. 9. Taxatio bonorum temporalium religiosorum in 
Archidiac. Wynton. 

Prior de Selebourn habet maneria de 

Bromdene taxat. ad - xxx s. ii d. 

Apud Schete ad - - xvii s. 

P. Selebourn ad - - vi lib. 

In civitate Wynton de reddit. - vi lib. viii ob. 

Tannaria sua taxat. ad. - - x lib. s. 

Summa tax. xxxviii lib. xiiii d. ob. Inde decima vi lib. s. q. ob. 


INFORMATION being sent to Rome respecting the havoc 
and spoil that was carrying on among the revenues and 
lands of the Priory of Selborne, as we may suppose by the 
bishop of Winchester, its visitor, Pope Martin, 1 as soon as 
the news of these proceedings came before him, issued 
forth a bull, in which he enjoins his commissary im- 
mediately to revoke all the property that had been alienated. 
In this instrument his holiness accuses the prior and 
canons of having granted away (they themselves and their 
predecessors) to certain clerks and laymen their tithes, 
lands, rents, tenements, and possessions, to some of them 

1 Pope Martin V. chosen about 1417. He attempted to reform the 
church but died in 1431, just as he had summoned the council of Basil. 


for their lives, to others for an undue term of years, and 
to some again for a perpetuity, to the great and heavy 
detriment of the monastery : and these leases were granted, 
he continues to add, under their own hands, with the 
sanction of an oath and the renunciation of all right and 
claims, and under penalties, if the right was not made 
good. But it will be best to give an abstract from the 

N. 298. Pope Martin's bull touching the revoking of 
certaine things alienated from the Priory of Seleburne. 
Pontif. sui. ann. i. 

" Martinus Eps. servus servorum Dei. Dilecto filio 
Priori de Suthvale 1 Wyntonien. dioc. Salutem & apos- 
tolicam ben. Ad audientiarn nostram pervenit quam tarn 
dilecti filii prior et conventus monasterii de Seleburn per 
Priorem soliti gubernari ordinis S tt . Augustini Winton. 
dioc. quam de predecessores eorum decimas, terras, red- 
ditus, domos, possessiones, vineas, 2 et quedam alia bona ad 
monasterium ipsum spectantia, datis super hoc litteris, 
interpositis juramentis, factis renuntiationibus, et penis 
adjectis* in gravem ipsius monasterii lesionem, nonnullis 
clericis et laicis, aliquibus eorum ad vitam, quibusdam vero 
ad non modicum tempus, & aliis perpetuo ad firmam, vel 
sub censu annuo concesserunt ; quarum aliqui dicunt super 
hiis a sede aplica in communi forma confirmationis litteras 
impetrasse. Quia vero nostra interest lesis monasteriis 
subvenire [He the Pope here commands] ea ad jus et 
proprietatem monasterii studeas legitime revocare," etc. 

The conduct of the religious had now for some time 
been generally bad. Many of the monastic societies, being 
very opulent, were become voluptuous and licentious, and 
had deviated entirely from their original institutions. The 

1 Should have been no doubt Southwick, a priory under Portsdown. 

2 Mr. Barrington is of opinion that anciently the English vinea was in 
almost every instance an orchard ; not perhaps always of apples merely, 
but of other fruits ; as cherries, plums, and currants. We still say a plum 
or cherry-orchard. See Vol. III. of Archaeologia. 

In the instance above the pope's secretary might insert vineas merely 
because they were a species of cultivation familiar to him in Italy. 


laity saw with indignation the wealth and possessions of 
their pious ancestors perverted to the service of sensuality 
and indulgence ; and spent in gratifications highly un- 
becoming the purposes for which they were given. A 
total disregard to their respective rules and discipline drew 
on the monks and canons a heavy load of popular odium. 
Some good men there were who endeavoured to oppose 
the general delinquency ; but their efforts were too feeble 
to stern the torrent of monastic luxury. As far back as 
the year 1381 Wickliffe's principles and doctrines had 
made some progress, were well received by men who 
wished for a reformation, and were defended and main- 
tained by them as long as they dared ; till the bishops and 
clergy began to be so greatly alarmed, that they procured 
an act to be passed by which the secular arm was em- 
powered to support the corrupt doctrines of the church ; 
but the first lollard was not burned till the year 1401. 

The wits also of those times did not spare the gross 
morals of the clergy, but boldly ridiculed their ignorance 
and profligacy. The most remarkable of these were 
Chaucer, and his contemporary, Robert Langelande, better 
known by the name of Piers Plowman. The laughable 
tales of the former are familiar to every reader ; while 
the visions of the latter are but in few hands. With a 
quotation from the Passus Decimus of this writer I shall 
conclude my letter ; not only on account of the remark- 
able prediction therein contained, which carries with it 
somewhat of the air of a prophecy ; but also as it seems to 
have been a striking picture of monastic insolence and dis- 
sipation ; and a specimen of one of the keenest pieces of 
satire now perhaps subsisting in any language, ancient or 

" Now is religion a rider, a romer by streate ; 
A leader of love-days, and a loud begger ; 
A pricker on a palfrey from maner to maner, 
A heape of hounds at his arse, as he a lord were. 
And but if his knave kneel, that shall his cope bring, 
He loureth at him, and asketh him who taught him curtesie. 


Little had lords to done, to give lands from her heirs, 
To religious that have no ruth if it rain on her altars. 
In many places ther they persons be, by himself at ease : 
Of the poor they have no pity, and that is her charitie ; 
And they letten hem as lords, her lands lie so broad. 
And there shal come a king, 1 and confess you religious ; 
And beate you, as the bible telleth, for breaking your 


And amend monials, and monks, and chanons, 
And put hem to her penaunce ad pristinum statum ire"' 


WILLIAM of Waynflete became bishop of Winchester in 
the year 1447, and seems to have pursued the generous 
plan of Wykeham in endeavouring to reform the priory 
of Selborne. 

When Waynflete came to the see he found Prior Stype, 
alias Stepe, still living, who had been elected as long ago as 
the year 1411. 

Among my documents I find a curious paper of the 
things put into the custody of Peter Bernes the sacrist, 
and especially some relics : the title of this evidence is 
" No. 50, Indentura prioris de Selborne quorundam tradit. 

Petro Bernes sacristae, ibidem, ami. Hen. VI. una cum 

confiss. ejusdem Petri script." The occasion of this cata- 

1 F. I. a. "This prediction, although a probable conclusion concerning 
a king who after a time would suppress the religious houses, is remark- 
able. I imagined it might have been foisted into the copies in the reign 
of king Henry VIII. but it is to be found in MSS. of this poem, older 
than the year 1400." Fol. 1. a. b. 

"Again, where he, Piers Plowman, alludes to the Knights Templars, 
lately suppressed, he says, 

" Men of holie kirk 

Shall turn as Templars did ; the tyme approacheth nere." 
" This, I suppose, was a favourite doctrine in Wickliffe's discourses." 
Warton's Hist, of English Poetry, Vol. I. p. 282. 


logue, or list of effects, being drawn between the prior 
and sacrist does not appear, nor the date when ; only that 
it happened in the reign of Hen. VI. This transaction 
probably took place when Bernes entered on his office ; 
and there is the more reason to suppose that to be the 
case, because the list consists of vestments and implements, 
and relics, such as belonged to the church of the Priory, 
and fell under the care of the sacrist. For the numerous 
items I shall refer the curious reader to the Appendix, and 
shall just mention the relics, although they are not all 
specified ; and the state of the live stock of the monastery 
at that juncture. 

" Item 2. osculator. argent. 

"Item i. osculatorium cum osse digiti auricular. S w . 
Johannis Baptistae. 1 

" Item i. parvam crucem cum V. reliquiis. 

" Item i . anulum argent, et deauratum St. Edmundi. 2 

" Item 2. osculat. de coper. 

" Item i. junctorium St. Ricardi. 3 

"Item i. pecten St. Ricardi. 4 

1 How the convent came by the bone of the little finger of Saint John 
the Baptist does not appear; probably the founder, while in Palestine, 
purchased it among the Asiatics, who were at that time great traders in 
relics. We know from the best authority that as soon as Herod had 
cruelly beheaded that holy man "his disciples came and took up the 
body and buried it, and went and told Jesus." Matt. iv. 12. Further 
would be difficult to say. 

2 November 20, in the calendar, Edmund king and martyr, in the gth 
century. See also a Sanctus Edmundus in Godwin, among the arch- 
bishops of Canterbury, in the I3th century; his surname Rich, in 1234. 

3 April 3, ibid. Richard bishop of Chichester, in the I3th century; 
his surname De la Wich, in 1245. 

Junctorium, perhaps a joint or limb of St. Richard ; but what particular 
joint the religious were not such osteologists as to specify. This bar- 
barous word was not to be found in any dictionary consulted by the 

4 " Pecten inter ministeria sacra recensetur, quo scil. sacerdotes ac clerici, 
antequam in ecclesiam procederent, crines pecterent. E quibus colligitur 
monachos, tune temporis, non omnino tonsos fuisse." Du FRESNE. 

The author remembers to have seen in great farm houses a family 
comb chained to a post for the use of the hinds when they came into 
their meals. 


The staurum, or live stock, is quite ridiculous, consist- 
ing only of " 2 vacce, i sus, 4 hoggett. et 4 porcell." 
viz. two cows, one sow, four porkers, and four pigs. 


STEPE died towards the end of the year 1453, as we 
may suppose pretty far advanced in life, having been prior 
forty-four years. 

On the very day that the vacancy happened, viz. 
January 26, 1453-4, the sub-prior and convent petitioned 
the visitor " vos unicum levamen nostrum, et spem 
unanimiter rogamus, quatinus eligendum ex nobis unum 
confratrem ne gremio nostro, in nostra religione probatum 
et expertem, licenciam vestram paternalem cum plena 
libertate nobis concedere dignemini graciose." Reg. 
Waynflete, torn. I. 

Instead of the license requested we find next a com- 
mission "custodie prioratus de Selebourne durante vaca- 
tione," addressed to brother Peter Berne, canon-regular 
of the priory of Selebourne, and of the order of St. 
Augustine, appointing him keeper of the said priory, and 
empowering him to collect and receive the profits and 
revenues, and " alia bona," of the said priory ; and to 
exercise in every respect the full power and authority of a 
prior ; but to be responsible to the visitor finally, and 
to maintain this superiority during the bishop's pleasure 
only. This instrument is dated from the bishop's manor- 
house in Southwark, March I, 1453-4, and the seventh of 
his consecration. 

After this transaction it does not appear that the 
chapter of the Priory proceeded to any election : on 
the contrary, we find that at six months' end from the 
vacancy the visitor declared that a lapse had taken place ; 
and that therefore he did confer the priorship on canon 
Peter Berne. " Prioratum vacantem et ad nostram colla- 


tionem, seu provisionem jure ad nos in hac parte per 
lapsum temporis legitime devolutu spectantem, tibi (sc. 
P. Berne) de legitimo matrimonio procreate, &c. conferi- 
mus," etc. This deed bears date July 28, 1454. Reg. 
Waynflete, torn. I. p. 69. 

On February 8, 1462, the visitor issued out a power of 
sequestration against the Priory of Selborne on account 
of notorious dilapidations which threatened manifest ruin 
to the roofs, walls, and edifices of the said convent ; 
and appointing John Hammond, B.D., rector of the 
parish church of Hetlegh, John Hylling, vicar of the 
parish church of Newton Valence, and Walter Gorfin, 
inhabitant of the parish of Selborne, his sequestrators, 
to exact, collect, levy, and receive, all the profits and 
revenues of the said convent : he adds, " ac ea sub arcto, 
et tuto custodiatis, custodirive faciatis"; as they would 
answer it to the bishop at their peril. 

In consequence of these proceedings prior Berne, on the 
last day of February, and the next year, produced a state 
of the revenues of the Priory, No. 381, called "A paper 
conteyning the value of the manors and lands pertayning 
to the Priory of Selborne. 4 Edward III. with a note 
of charges yssuing out of it." 

This is a curious document, and will appear in the 
Appendix. From circumstances in this paper it is plain 
that the sequestration produced good effects ; for in it are 
to be found bills of repairs to a considerable amount. 

By this evidence also it appears that there were at that 
juncture only four canons at the Priory 1 ; and that these, 
and their four household servants, during this sequestra- 
tion for their clothing, wages, and diet, were allowed per 
ann. xxx lib. ; and that the annual pension of the lord 
prior, reside where he would, was to be x lib. 

In the year 1468, prior Berne, probably wearied out by 
the dissensions and want of order that prevailed in the 

1 If bishop Wykeham was so disturbed (see Notab. Visitatio) to 
find the number of canons reduced from fourteen to eleven, what would 
he have said to have seen it diminished below one third of that 
number ? 


convent, resigned his priorship into the hands of the 
bishop. Reg. Waynflete, torn. I. pars. i ma , fol. 157. 

March 28, A.D. 1468. " In quadam alta camera juxta 
magnam portam manerii of the bishop of Wynton de 
Waltham coram eodem rev. patre ibidem tune sedente, 
Peter Berne, prior of Selborne, ipsum prioratum in sacras, 
et venerabiles manus of the bishop, viva voce libere re- 
signavit : and his resignation was admitted before two 
witnesses and a notary-public. In consequence, March 
29th, before the bishop, in capella manerii sui ante dicti 
pro tribunal! sedente, comparuerunt fratres" Peter Berne, 
Thomas London, William Wyndesor, and William Pay- 
nell, alias Stretford, canons regular of the priory, " capitu- 
lum, et conventum ejusdem ecclesie facientes; ac jus et 
voces in electione futura prioris dicti prioratus solum et 
in solidum, ut asseruerunt, habentes ; and after the bishop 
had notified to them the vacancy of a prior, with his 
free license to elect, deliberated awhile, and then, by way 
of compromise, as they affirmed, unanimously transferred 
their right of election to the bishop before witnesses. 
In consequence of this the bishop, after full deliberation, 
proceeded, April yth, " in capella manerii sui de Waltham," 
to the election of a prior : " et fratrem Johannem Morton, 
priorem ecclesie conventualis de Reygate dicti ordinis S ri 
Augustini Wynton. dioc. in priorem vice et nomine 
omnium et singulorum canonicorum predictorum elegit, in 
ordine sacerdotali, et etate licita constitutum, &c." And 
on the same day, in the same place, and before the same 
witnesses, John Morton resigned to the bishop the prior- 
ship of Reygate viva voce. The bishop then required his 
consent to his own election ; " qui licet in parte renitens 
tanti reverendi patris se confirmans," obeyed, and signified 
his consent oraculo vive vocis. Then was there a mandate 
citing any one who would gainsay the said election to 
appear before the bishop or his commissary in his chapel at 
Farnham on the second day of May next. The dean of 
the deanery of Aulton then appeared before the chancellor, 
his commissary, and returned the citation or mandate 
dated April 22d, 1468, with signification, in writing, of 


his having published it as required, dated Newton Valence, 
May ist, 1468. This certificate being read, the four 
canons of Selborne appeared and required the election 
to be confirmed ; et ex super abundanti appointed William 
Long their proctor to solicit in their name that he might 
be canonically confirmed. John Morton also appeared, 
and proclamation was made ; and no one appearing against 
him, the commissary pronounced all absentees contu- 
macious, and precluded them from objecting at any other 
time ; and, at the instance of John Morton and the proctor, 
confirmed the election by his decree, and directed his 
mandate to the rector of Hedley and the vicar of Newton 
Valence to install him in the usual form. 

Thus, for the first time, was a person, a stranger to 
the convent of Selborne, and never canon of that monastery, 
elected prior ; though the style of the petitions in former 

elections used to run thus, " Vos rogamus quatinus 

eligendum ex nobis unum confratrem de gremio nostro, 
licentiam vestram nobis concedere dignemini." 


PRIOR MORTON dying in 1471, two canons, by themselves, 
proceeded to election, and chose a prior ; but two more 
(one of them Berne) complaining of not being summoned, 
objected to the proceedings as informal ; till at last the 
matter was compromised that the bishop should again, 
for that turn, nominate as he had before. But the circum- 
stances of this election will be best explained by the 
following extract : 

REG. WAYNFLETE, torn. II. pars i ma , fol. 7. 

Memorandum. A.D. 1471, August 22. 

William Wyndesor, a canon-regular of the Priory of 
Selborne, having been elected prior on the death of brother 


John, appeared in person before the bishop in his chapel at 
South Waltham. He was attended on this occasion by 
Thomas London and John Bromesgrove, canons, who had 
elected him. Peter Berne and William Stratfeld, canons, 
also presented themselves at the same time, complaining 
that in this business they had been overlooked, and not 
summoned ; and that therefore the validity of the election 
might with reason be called in question, and quarrels and 
dissensions might probably arise between the newly chosen 
prior and the parties thus neglected. 

After some altercation and dispute they all came to an 
agreement with the new prior that what had been done 
should be rejected and annulled; and that they would 
again, for this turn, transfer to the bishop their power to 
elect, order, and provide them another prior, whom they 
promised unanimously to admit. 

The bishop accepted of this offer before witnesses ; and 
on September 27, in an inner chamber near the chapel 
abovementioned, after full deliberation, chose brother 
Thomas Fairwise, vicar of Somborne, a canon-regular of 
Saint Augustine in the Priory of Bruscough, in the diocese 
of Coventry and Litchfield, to be prior of Selborne. The 
form is nearly as above in the last election. The canons 
are again enumerated ; W. Wyndesor, sub-prior, P. Berne, 
T. London, W. Stratfeld, J. Bromesgrove, who had formed 
the chapter, and had requested and obtained license to 
elect, but had unanimously conferred their power on the 
bishop. In consequence of this proceeding, the bishop 
taking the business upon himself, that the Priory might 
not suffer detriment for want of a governor, appoints the 
aforesaid T. Fairwise to be prior. A citation was ordered 
as above for gainsayers to appear October 4th, before the 
bishop or his commissaries at South Waltham ; but none 
appearing, the commissaries admitted the said Thomas, 
ordered him to be installed, and sent the usual letter to the 
convent to render him due obedience. 

Thus did the bishop of Winchester a second time 
appoint a stranger to be prior of Selborne, instead of one 
chosen out of the chapter. For this seeming irregularity 


the visitor had no doubt good and sufficient reasons, as 
probably may appear hereafter. 


WHATEVER might have been the abilities and disposition 
of prior Fairwise, it could not have been in his power to 
have brought about any material reformation in the Priory 
of Selborne, because he departed this life in the month of 
August 1472, before he had presided one twelvemonth. 

As soon as their governor was buried the chapter applied 
to their visitor for leave to choose a new prior, which being 
granted, after deliberating for a time, they proceeded to an 
election by a scrutiny. But as this mode of voting has not 
been described but by the mere form in the Appendix, an 
extract from the bishop's register, representing the manner 
more fully, may not be disagreeable to several readers. 

WAYNFLETE REG. torn. II. pars i ma , fol. 15. 

" Reverendo &c. ac nostro patrono graciosissimo vestri 
humiles, et devote obedientie filii," etc. 

To the right reverend Father in God, and our most 
gracious patron, we, your obedient and devoted sons, 
William Wyndesor, president of the chapter of the Priory 
of Selborne, and the convent of that place, do make known 
to your Lordship, that our priorship being lately vacant by 
the death of Thomas Fairwise, our late prior, who died 
August nth, 1472, having committed his body to decent 
sepulture, and having requested, according to custom, leave 
to elect another, and having obtained it under your seal, 
we, William Wyndesor, president of the convent, on the 
29th of August, in our chapter-house assembled, and 
making a chapter, talcing to us in this business Richard 
ap Jenkyn, and Galfrid Bryan, chaplains, that our said 


priory might not by means of this vacancy incur harm or 
loss, unanimously agreed on August the last for the day 
of election ; on which day, having first celebrated mass, 
"De sancto spiritu," at the high altar, and having called a 
chapter by tolling a bell about ten o' the clock, we, 
William Wyndesor, president, Peter Berne, Thomas 
London, and William Stratfeld, canons, who alone had 
voices, being the only canons, about ten o' the clock, first 
sung "Veni Creator," the letters and license being read in 
the presence of many persons there. Then William 
Wyndesor, in his own name, and that of all the canons, 
made solemn proclamation, enjoining all who had no right 
to vote to depart out of the chapter-house. When all 
were withdrawn except Guyllery de Lacuna, in decretis 
Baccalarius, and Robert Peverell, notary-public, and also 
the two chaplains, the first was requested to stay, that he 
might direct and inform us in the mode of election, the 
other, that he might record and attest the transactions; 
and the two last that they might be witnesses to them. 

Then having read the constitution of the general council 
"Quia propter," and the forms of elections contained in it 
being sufficiently explained to them by De Lacuna, as well 
in Latin as the vulgar tongue, and having deliberated in 
what mode to proceed in this election, they resolved in that 
of scrutiny. Three of the canons, Wyndesor, Berne, and 
London, were made scrutators : Berne, London, and 
Stratfeld, choosing Wyndesor; Wyndesor, London, and 
Stratfeld, choosing Berne ; Wyndesor, Berne, and Stratfeld, 
choosing London. 

They were empowered to take each other's vote, and 
then that of Stratfeld; "et ad inferiorem partem angul- 
arem" of the chapter-house, "juxta ostium ejusdem 
declinentes," with the other persons (except Stratfeld, who 
staid behind), proceeded to voting, two swearing, and 
taking the voice of the third, in succession, privately. 
Wyndesor voted first: "Ego credo Petrum Berne 
meliorem et utiliorem ad regimen istius ecclesie, et in 
ipsum consentio, ac eum nomino," etc. Berne was next 
sworn, and in like manner nominated Wyndesor ; London 


nominated Berne : Stratfeld was then called and sworn, 
and nominated Berne. 

" Quibus in scriptis redactis," by the notary-public, they 
returned to the upper part of the chapter-house, where by 
Wyndesor "sic purecta fecerunt in communi," and then 
solemnly, in form written, declared the election of Berne : 
when all, "antedicto nostro electo excepto, approbantes et 
ratificantes, cepimus decantare solemniter 'Te Deum 
Laudamus,' et sic canentes dictum electum ad majus 
altare ecclesie deduximus, ut apud nos est moris. Then 
Wyndesor electionem clero et populo infra chorum dicte 
ecclesie congregatis publicavit, et personam electi publice 
et personaliter ostendit." We then returned to the 
chapter-house, except our prior; and Wyndesor was 
appointed by the other two their proctor, to desire the 
assent of the elected, and to notify what had been done by 
the bishop ; and to desire him to confirm the election, and 
do whatever else was necessary. Then their proctor, 
before the witnesses, required Berne's assent in the chapter- 
house : "qui quidem instanciis et precibus multiplicatis 
devictus," consented, "licet indignus electus," in writing. 
They therefore requested the bishop's confirmation of 
their election "sic canonice et solemniter celebrata," etc. 
etc. Sealed with their common seal, and subscribed and 
attested by the notary. Dat. in the chapter-house 
September 5th, 1472. 

In consequence, September nth, 1472, in the bishop's 
chapel at Esher, and before the bishop's commissary, 
appeared W. Wyndesor, and exhibited the above instru- 
ment, and a mandate from the bishop for the appearance 
of gainsayers of the election there on that day : and no 
one appearing, the absentees were declared contumacious, 
and the election confirmed ; and the vicar of Aulton was 
directed to induct and install the prior in the usual manner. 

Thus did canon Berne, though advanced in years, 
reassume his abdicated priorship for the second time, to 
the no small satisfaction, as it may seem, of the bishop of 
Winchester, who professed, as will be shown, not long 
hence, an high opinion of his abilities and integrity. 



As prior Berne, when chosen in 1454, held his priorship 
only to 1468, and then made a voluntary resignation, 
wearied and disgusted, as we may conclude, by the disorder 
that prevailed in his convent ; it is no matter of wonder 
that, when re-chosen in 1472, he should not long maintain 
his station ; as old age was then coming fast upon him, 
and the increasing anarchy and misrule of that declining 
institution required unusual vigour and resolution to stem 
that torrent of profligacy which was hurrying it on to its 
dissolution. We find, accordingly, that in 1478 he resigned 
his dignity again into the hands of the bishop. 

WAYNFLETE REG. fol. 55. 

Resignatio Prioris de Seleborne. 

May 14, 1478. Peter Berne resigned the priorship. 
May 1 6 the bishop admitted his resignation " in manerio 
suo de Waltham," and declared the priorship void; " et 
priorat. solacio destitutum esse " ; and granted his letters 
for proceeding to a new election : when all the religious, 
assembled in the chapter-house, did transfer their power 
under their seal to the bishop, by the following public 

"In Dei nomine Amen," etc. A.D. 1478, Maii 19. In 
the chapter-house for the election of a prior for that day, 
on the free resignation of Peter Berne, having celebrated 
in the first place mass at the high altar " De spiritu 
sancto," and having called a chapter by tolling a bell, ut 
moris est\ in the presence of a notary and witnesses 
appeared personally Peter Berne, Thomas Ashford, Stephen 
Clydgrove, and John Ashton, presbyters, and Henry 
Canwood, 1 in chapter assembled ; and after singing the 

1 Here we see that all the canons were changed in six years ; and that 
there was quite a new chapter, Berne excepted, between 1472 and 1478 ; 


hymn ' Veni Creator Spiritus,' " cum versiculo et oratione 
' Deus qui corda ' ; declarataque licentia Fundatoris et 
Patroni ; futurum priorem eligendi concessa, et constitu- 
tione consilii generalis que incipit 'Quia propter' declaratis; 
viisque per quas possent ad hanc electionem procedere," by 
the de ere tor urn doctorem, whom the canons had taken to 
direct them they all and every one " dixerunt et affirma- 
runt se nolle ad aliquam viam procedere" : but, for this 
turn only, renounced their right, and unanimously trans- 
ferred their power to the bishop the ordinary of the place, 
promising to receive whom he should provide; and 
appointed a proctor to present the instrument to the 
bishop under their seal ; and required their notary to 
draw it up in due form, etc. subscribed by the notary. 

After the visitor had fully deliberated on the matter, he 
proceeded to the choice of a prior, and elected, by the 
following instrument, John Sharp, alias Glastenbury. 


Willmus, etc. to our beloved brother in Christ John 
Sharp, alias Glastenbury, Ecclesie conventualis de Bruton, 
of the order of St. Austin, in the diocese of Bath and 
Wells, canon-regular sa/utem, etc. " De tue circumspec- 
tionis industria plurimum confidentes, et virum providum 
et discretum, literarum scientia, et moribus merito com- 
mendandum," etc. do appoint you prior under our seal. 
"Dat. in manerio nostro de Suthwaltham, May 20, 1478, 
et nostre Consec. 31." 

Thus did the bishop, three times out of the four that he 
was at liberty to nominate, appoint a prior from a distance, 
a stranger to the place, to govern the convent of Selborne, 
hoping by this method to have broken the cabal, and 
to have interrupted that habit of mismanagement that had 

for, instead of Wyndesor, London, and Stratfeld, we find Ashford, Clyd- 
grove, Ashton, and Canwood, all new men, who were soon gone in their 
turn off the stage, and are heard of no more. For, in six years after, 
there seem to have been no canons at all. 


pervaded the society : but he acknowledges, in an evidence 
lying before us, that he never did succeed to his wishes with 
respect to those late governors, " quos tamen male se 
habuisse, et inutiliter administrare, et administrasse usque 
ad presentia tempora post debitam investigationem, &c. 
invenit." The only time that he appointed from among 
the canons, he made choice of Peter Berne, for whom he 
had conceived the greatest esteem and regard. 

When prior Berne first relinquished his priorship, he 
returned again to his former condition of canon, in which 
he continued for some years : but when he was re-chosen, 
and had abdicated a second time, we find him in a forlorn 
state, and in danger of being reduced to beggary, had not 
the bishop of Winchester interposed in his favour, and 
with great humanity insisted on a provision for him for 
life. The reason for this difference seems to have been, 
that, in the first case, though in years, he might have been 
hale and capable of taking his share in the duty of the 
convent ; in the second, he was broken with age, and no 
longer equal to the functions of a canon. 

Impressed with this idea the bishop very benevolently 
interceded in his favour, and laid his injunctions on the 
new-elected prior in the following manner. 

Fol. 56. "In Dei nomine Amen. Nos Willmus, &c. 
considerantes Petrum Berne," late prior, " in administra- 
tione spiritualium et temporalium prioratus laudabiliter 
vixisse et rexisse ; ipsumque senio et corporis debilitate 
confractum ; ne in opprobrium religionis mendicari coga- 
tur ; eidem annuam pensionem a Domino Johanne Sharp, 
alias Glastonbury, priore moderno," and his successors, 
and, from the Priory or church, to be payed every year 
during his life, "de voluntate et ex consensu expressis," of 
the said John Sharp, "sub ea que sequitur forma verborum 
assignamus" : 

i st. That the said prior and his successors, for the 
time being, honeste exhibebunt of the fruits and profits of 
the priorship, " eidem esculenta et poculenta," while he 
remained in the Priory "sub consimili portione eorundem 
prout convenienter priori," for the time being, ministrari 


contigerit ; and in like manner uni famulo, whom he should 
choose to wait on him, as to the servientibus of the prior. 

Item. "Invenient seu exhibebunt eidem unam honestam 
cameram" in the Priory, "cum focalibus necessariis seu 
opportunis ad eundem." 

Item. " We will, ordain, &c. to the said P. Berne, an 
annual pension of ten marks, from the revenue of the 
Priory, to be paid by the hands of the prior quarterly." 

The bishop decrees farther, that John Sharp, and his 
successors, shall take an oath to observe this injunction, 
and that before their installation. 

" Lecta et facta sunt haec in quodam alto oratorio," 
belonging to the bishop at Suthwaltham, May 25, 1478, 
in the presence of John Sharp, who gave his assent, and 
then took the oath before witnesses, with the other oaths 
before the chancellor, who decreed he should be inducted 
and installed ; as was done that same day. 

How John Sharp, alias Glastonbury, acquitted himself 
in his priorship, and in what manner he made a vacancy, 
whether by resignation, or death, or whether he was 
removed by the visitor, does not appear ; we only find 
that some time in the year 1484 there was no prior, and 
that the bishop nominated canon Ashford to fill the 


THIS Thomas Ashford was most undoubtedly the last 
prior of Selborne ; and therefore here will be the proper 
place to say something concerning a list of the priors, and 
to endeavour to improve that already given by others. 

At the end of bishop Tanner's Notitia Monastica, the 
folio edition, among Brown Willis's Principals of Religious 
Houses occur the names of eleven of the priors of Selborne, 
with dates. But this list is imperfect, and particularly at 
the beginning ; for though the Priory was founded in 
1232, yet it commences with Nich. de Cantia, elected in 


1262 ; so that for the first thirty years no prior is 
mentioned ; yet there must have been one or more. We 
were in hopes that the register of Peter de Rupibus 
would have rectified this omission ; but, when it was 
examined, no information of the sort was to be found. 
From the year 1410 the list is much corrected and 
improved; and the reader may depend on its being 
thence forward very exact. 

A List of the Priors of Selborne Priory, from Brown 
Willis's Principals of Religious Houses, with additions 
within [ ] by the author. 

[John was prior, sine dat.'] 1 

Nich. de Cantia el. - 1262. 

[Peter was prior in - I2 7 1 -] 

[Richard was prior in - 1280.] 

Will. Basing was prior in - I2 99- 

Walter de Insula el. in - 

[Some difficulties, and a devolution ; but the election 

confirmed by bishop Stratford.] 
John de Wint5n T 339- 

Thomas Weston - I 377- 

John Winchester [Wynchestre] - 1410. 

[Elected by bishop Beaufort " per viam vel formam 

simplicis compromissi."] 

[John Stype, alias Stepe, in - 1411.] 

Peter Bene [alias Berne or Bernes, appointed keeper, 

and, by lapse to bishop Wayneflete, prior] in 1454. 
[He resigns in 1468.] 

John Morton [prior of Reygate] in - 1468. 

[The canons by compromise transfer the power of 

election to the bishop.] 

Will. Winsor [Wyndesor, prior for a few days] I 47 I - 
[But removed on account of an irregular election.] 
Thomas Farwill [Fairwise, vicar of Somborne] 147 1. 
[By compromise again elected by the bishop.] 

1 See, in Letter XI. of these Antiquities, the reason why prior John 

, who had transactions with the Knights Templars, is placed in the 

list before the year 1262. 


[Peter Berne, re-elected by scrutiny in - 

[Resigns again in 1478.] 
lohn Sharper [Sharp] alias Glastonbury - H78- 

[Canon-reg. of Bruton, elected by the bishop by 

[Thomas Ashford, canon of Selborne, last prior elected 

by the bishop of Winchester, some time in the year 1484, 

and deposed at the dissolution.] 


BISHOP WAYNEFLETE'S efforts to continue the Priory still 
proved unsuccessful ; and the convent, without any canons, 
and for some time without a prior, was tending swiftly to 
its dissolution. 

When Sharp's alias Glastonbury's, priorship ended does 
not appear. The bishop says that he had been obliged to 
remove some priors for male-administration : but it is not 
well explained how that could be the case with any, unless 
with Sharp ; because all the others, chosen during his 
episcopate, died in their office, viz. Morton and Fairwise ; 
Berne only excepted, who relinquished twice voluntarily, 
and was moreover approved of by Wayneflete as a person 
of integrity. But the way to show what ineffectual pains 
the bishop took, and what difficulties he met with, will be 
to quote the words of the libel of his proctor Radulphus 
Langley, who appeared for the bishop in the process of 
the impropriation of the Priory of Selborne. The extract 
is taken from an attested copy. 

" Item that the said bishop dicto prioratui et personis 
ejusdem pie compatiens, sollicitudines pastorales, labores, 
et diligentias gravissimas quam plurimas, tarn per se quam 
per suos, pro reformatione premissorum impendebat : et 
aliquando illius loci prioribus, propter malam et inutilem 
administrationem, et dispensationem bonorum predict! 
prioratus, suis dementis exigentibus, amotis ; alios priores 


in quorum circumspectione et diligentia confidebat, prefecit: 
quos tamen male se habuisse ac inutiliter administrare, et 
administrasse, usque ad presentia tempora post debitam 
investigationem, &c. invenit." So that he despaired with 
all his care " statum ejusdem reparare vel restaurare : et 
considerata temporis malicia, et preteritis timendo et con- 
jecturando futura, de aliqua bona et sancta religione 
ejusdem ordinis, &c. juxta piam intentionem primevi 
fundatoris ibidem habend. desperatur." 

William Wain fleet, bishop of Winchester, founded his 
college of Saint Mary Magdalene, in the University of 
Oxford, in or about the year 1459 ; but the revenues 
proving insufficient for so large and noble an establishment, 
the college supplicated the founder to augment its income 
by putting it in possession of the estates belonging to the 
Priory of Selborne, now become a deserted convent, with- 
out canons or prior. The president and fellows state the 
circumstances of their numerous institution and scanty 
provision, and the ruinous and perverted condition of the 
Priory. The bishop appoints commissaries to inquire into 
the state of the said monastery ; and, if found expedient, 
to confirm the appropriation of it to the college, which 
soon after appoints attornies to take possession, September 
24, 1484. But the way to give the reader a thorough 
insight respecting this transaction, will be to transcribe a 
farther proportion of the process of the impropriation from 
the beginning, which will lay open the manner of pro- 
ceeding, and show the consent of the parties. 


" Universis sancte matris ecclesie filiis, &c. Ricardus 
Dei gratia prior ecclesie conventualis de Novo Loco, &C. 1 

1 Ecclesia Conventualis de Novo Loco was the monastery afterwards 
called the New Minster, or Abbey of Hyde, in the city of Winchester. 
Should any intelligent reader wonder to see that the prior of Hyde 
Abbey was commissar)' to the bishop of Winton, and should conclude 
that there was a mistake in titles, and that the abbot must have been 
here meant ; he will be pleased to recollect that this person was the 


ad universitatem vestre notitie deducimus, &c. quod coram 
nobis commissario predicto in ecclesia parochial! S tl Georgii 
de Essher, diet. Winton. dioc. 3. die Augusti, A.D. 
1485. Indictione tertia pontifical. Innocentii 8 vi . ann. 
i mo . judicialiter comparuit venerabilis vir Jacobus Preston, 
S. T. P. infrascriptus, et exhibuit literas commissionis 
quas quidem per magistrum Thomam Somercotes notarium 
publicum, &c. legi fecimus, tenorem sequentem in se con- 
tinentes." The same as No. 103, but dated " In manerio 
nostro de Essher, Augusti i mo , A.D. 1485, et nostre 
consec. anno 39." [No. 103 is repeated in a book con- 
taining the like process in the preceding year by the same 
commissary, in the parish church of St. Andrew the apostle, 
at Farnham, Sept. 6th, anno 1484.] " Post quarum liter- 
arum lecturam dictus magister Jacobus Preston, quasdam 
procuratorias literas mag. Richardi Mayewe presidentis, ut 
asseruit, collegii beate Marie Magdalene, &c. sigillo rotundo 
communi, &c. in cera rubea impresso sigillatas realiter 
exhibuit, &c. et pro eisdem driis suis, &c. fecit se partem, 
ac nobis supplicavit ut juxta formam in eisdem traditam 
procedere dignaremur, &c." After these proclamations 
no contradictor or abjector appearing " ad instantem 
petitionem ipsius mag. Jac. Preston, procuratoris, &c. 
procedendum fore decrevimus vocatis jure vocandis ; nee 
non mag. Tho. Somercotes, &c. in actorum nostrorum 
scribam nominavimus. Consequenter et ibidem tune 
comparuit magister Michael ClyfF, &c. et exhibuit in ea 
parte procuratorium suum," for the prior and convent of 
the cathedral of Winton, "et fecit se partem pro eisdem. 
Deinde comperuit coram nobis, &c. honestus vir Willmus 
Cowper," proctor for the bishop as patron of the Priory 
of Selborne, and exhibited his "procuratorium, &c." 
After these were read in the presence of ClyfF and 
Cowper, " Preston, viva voce," petitioned the commissary 
to annex and appropriate the Priory of Selborne to the 

second in rank ; for, " next under the abbot, in every abbey, was the 
prior." Pref. to Notit. Monast. p. xxix. Besides, abbots were great 
personages, and too high in station to submit to any office under the 


college " propter quod fructus, redditus, et proventus 
ejusdem coll. adeo tenues sunt, et exiles, quod ad sus- 
tentationem ejus, &c. non sufficiunt." The commissary, 
"ad libellandum et articulandum in scriptis " adjourned 
the court to the 5th of August, then to be held again in 
the parish church of Essher. 

W. Cowper being then absent, Radulphus Langley 
appeared for the bishop, and was admitted his proctor. 
Preston produced his libel or article in scriptis for the 
union, etc. " et admitti petiit eundem cum effectu ; cujus 
libelli tenor sequitur. In Dei nomine, Amen. Coram 
nobis venerabili in Christo patre Richardo, priore, &c. de 
Novo Loco, &c. commissario, &c." Part of the college 
of Magd. dicit. allegat. and in his " scriptis proponit, &c." 

" Imprimis that said college consists of a president and 
eighty scholars, besides sixteen choristers, thirteen servien- 
tes inibi altissimo famulantibus, et in scientiis plerisque 
liberalibus, presertim in sacra theologia studentibus, nedum 
ad ipsorum presidentis et scholarium pro presenti et im- 
posterum, annuente deo, incorporandum in eodem releva- 
men ; verum etiam ad omnium et singulorum tam 
scholarium quam religiosorum cujuscunque ordinis unde- 
quaque illuc confiuere pro salubri doctrina volentium 
utilitatem multiplicem ad incrementa virtutis fideique 
catholice stabilimentum. Ita videlicet quod omnes et sin- 
guli absque personarum seu nationum delectu illuc accedere 
volentes, lecturas publicas et doctrinas tam in grammatica 
loco ad collegium contiguo, ac philosophiis morali et naturali, 
quam in sacra theologia in eodem collegio perpetuis tem- 
poribus continuandas libere atque gratis audire valeant 
et possint ad laudem gloriam et honorem Dei, &c. extitit 
fundatum et stabilitum." 

For the first item in this process see the beginning of 
this letter. Then follows item the second " that the 
revenues of the college non sufficiunt his diebus." " Item 
that the premisses are true, &c. et super eisdem labora- 
runt, et laborant publica vox et fama. Unde facta fide 
petit pars eorundem that the Priory be annexed to the 
college : ita quod dicto prioratu vacante liceat Us ex tune 


to take possession, &c." This libel, with the express con- 
sent of the other proctors, we, the commissary admitted, 
and appointed the sixth of August for proctor Preston to 
prove the premisses. 

Preston produced witnesses, W. Gyfford, S.T.P., John 
Nele, A.M., John Chapman, chaplain, and Robert Baron, 
literatus, who were admitted and sworn, when the court 
was prorogued to the 6th of August ; and the witnesses, 
on the same 5th of August, were examined by the com- 
missary, " in capella infra manerium de Essher situata, 
secrete et singillatim." Then follows the " literae pro- 
curatoriae " : first that of the college, appointing Preston 
and Langport their proctors, dated August 3Oth, 1484 ; 
then that of the prior and convent of the cathedral of 
Winton, appointing David Husband and Michael Cleve, 
dated September 4th, 1484 : then that of the bishop, 
appointing W. Gyfford, Radulphus Langley, and Will. 
Cowper, dated September 3rd, 1484. Consec. 38. 
" Quo die adveniente in dicta ecclesia parochiali," appeared 
" coram nobis " James Preston to prove the contents of 
his libel, and exhibited some letters testimonial with the 
seal of the bishop, and these were admitted ; and conse- 
quenter Preston produced two witnesses, viz. Dominant 
Thoman Ashforde nuper priorem dicti prioratus, et Willm. 
Rabbys, literatum, who were admitted and sworn, and 
examined as the others, by the commissary ; " tune & 
ibidem assistente scriba secrete & singillatim " ; and their 
depositions were read and made public, as follows : 

Mr. W. GyfFord, S.T.P., aged 57, of the state of Magd. 
Coll. etc. etc. as before : 

Mr. John Nele, aged 57, proves the articles also : 

Robert Baron, aged 56 : 

Johannes Chapman, aged 35, also affirmed all the five 
articles : 

Dompnus Thomas Ashforde, aged 72 years " dicit 2 dum 
^ um ^um ar ti cu los in eodem libello contentos, concernentes 
statum dicti prioratus de Selebourne, fuisse et esse veros." 

W. Rabbys, aetat 40 ann. agrees with GyfFord, etc. 

Then follows the letter from the bishop, "in subsidium 


probationis," abovementioned. " Willmus, &c. salutem, 
&c. noverint universitas vestra, quod licet nos prioratui de 
Selebourne, &c. pie compacientes sollicitudines pastorales, 
labores, diligentias quam plurimas per nos & commissarios 
nostros pro reformatione status ejus impenderimus, jus- 
ticia id poscente ; nihilominus tamen," etc. as in the article 
to " desperatur," dated " in manerio nostro de Essher, 
Aug. 3d, 1485, & consec. 39." Then, on the 6th of 
August, Preston, in the presence of the other proctors, 
required that they should be compelled to answer ; when 
they all allowed the articles " fuisse & esse vera " ; and the 
commissary at the request of Preston, concluded the busi- 
ness, and appointed Monday, August 8th, for giving his 
decree in the same church of Essher ; and it was that day 
read, and contains a recapitulation, with the sentence of 
union, etc. witnessed and attested. 

As soon as the president and fellows of Magdalen 
college had obtained the decision of the commissary in 
their favour, they proceeded to supplicate the pope, and to 
entreat his holiness that he would give his sanction to the 
sentence of union. Some difficulties were started at Rome ; 
but they were surmounted by the college agent, as appears 
by his letters from that city. At length pope Innocent 
VIII. by a bull 1 bearing date the 8th day of June, in the 
year of our Lord 1486, and in the second year of his 
pontificate, confirmed what had been done, and suppressed 
the convent. 

Thus fell the considerable and well-endowed Priory of 
Selborne after it had subsisted about two hundred and 
fifty-four years : about seventy-four years after the sup- 
pression of Priories alien by Henry V. and about fifty 
years before the general dissolution of monasteries by 
Henry VIII. The founder, it is probable, had fondly 

1 There is nothing remarkable in this bull of pope Innocent except 
the statement of the annual revenue of the Priory of Selborne, which is 
therein estimated at 160 flor. auri ; whereas bishop Godwin sets it at 
337/. I 5/. >\d. Now zjloren, so named, says Camden, because made by 
Florentines, was a gold coin of king Edward III. in value 6s. whereof 
160 is not one seventh part of 3377. 15^. 6\d. 



imagined that the sacredness of the institution, and the 
pious motives on which it was established, might have pre- 
served it inviolate to the end of time yet it fell, 
" To teach us that God attributes to place 
No sanctity, if none be thither brought 
By men, who there frequent, or therein dwell." 

MILTON'S Paradise Lost. 


WAINFLEET did not long enjoy the satisfaction arising 
from this new acquisition ; but departed this life in a few 
months after he had effected the union of the Priory with 
his late founded college ; and was succeeded in the see of 
Winchester by Peter Courtney, some time towards the end 
of the year 1486. 

In the beginning of the following year the new bishop 
released the president and fellows of Magdalen College 
from all actions respecting the Priory of Selborne ; and the 
prior and convent of Saint Swithun, as the chapter of 
Winchester cathedral, confirmed the release. 1 

N. 293. " Relaxatio Petri epi Wint5n Ricardo Mayew, 
President! omnium actionum occasione indempnitatis sibi 
debite pro unione Prioratus de Selborne dicto collegio. 
Jan. 2. 1487. et translat. anno i." 

N. 374. " Relaxatio prioris et conventus S t! Swithini 
Winton confirmans relaxationem Petri ep. Winton." 1487. 
Jan. 13." 

Ashforde, the deposed prior, who had appeared as an 
evidence for the impropriation of the Priory at the age of 
seventy-two years, that he might not be destitute of a 
maintenance, was pensioned by the college to the day of 
his death ; and was living on till 1490, as appears by 
his acquittances. 

REG. A. ff. 46. 
" Omnibus Christi fidelibus ad quos presens scriptum 

1 The bishops of Winchester were patrons of the Priory. 


pervenerit, Richardus Mayew, presidens, &c. et scolares, 
salutem in Domino." 

" Noveritis nos prefatos presidentem et scolares dedisse, 
concessisse, et hoc present! scripto confirmasse Thome 
Ashforde, capellano, quendam annualem redditum sex 
librarum tresdecim solidorum et quatuor denariorum bone 
et legalis monete Anglie ad terminum vite prefati 
Thome" to be paid from the possessions of the college 
in Basingstoke. " In cujus rei testimonium sigillum nos- 
trum commune presentibus apponimus. Dat. Oxon. in 
coll. nostro supra dicto primo die mensis Junii anno regis 
Ricardi tertii secundo," viz. 1484. The college in their 
grant to Ashforde, style him only capellanus ; but the 
annuitant very naturally, and with a becoming dignity, 
asserts his late title in his acquittances, and identifies him- 
self by the addition of nuper priorem, or late prior. 

As, according to the persuasion of the times, the 
depriving the founder and benefactors of the Priory of 
their masses and services would have been deemed the 
most impious of frauds, bishop Wainfleet, having by statute 
ordained four obits for himself to be celebrated in the 
chapel of Magdalen College, enjoined in one of them a 
special collect for the anniversary of Peter de Rupibus, 
with a particular prayer " Deus Indulgentiarum." 

The college also sent Nicholas Langrish, who had been 
a chantry priest at Selborne, to celebrate mass for the souls 
of all that had been benefactors to the said Priory and 
college, and for all the faithful who had departed this life. 

N. 356. Thomas Knowles, presidens, etc. " damus 
et concedimus Nicholao Langrish quandum capellaniam, 
vel salarium, sive alio quocunque nomine censeatur, in 
prioratu quondam de Selborne pro termino 40 annorum, 
si tarn diu vixerit. Ubi dictus mag 1 . Nicholaus celebrabit 
pro animabus omnium benefactorum dicti prioratus et coll. 
nostri, et omnium fidelium defunctorum. Insuper nos, &c. 
concedimus eidem ibidem celebranti in sustentationem suam 
quandam annualempensionem sive annuitatem octo librarum 
&c. in dicta capella dicti prioratus concedimus duas 
cameras contiguas ex parte boreali dicte capelle, cum una 


coquina, et cum uno stabulo conveniente pro tribus equis, 
cum pomerio eidem adjacente voc. le Orcheyard Preterea 
26s. 8d. per ann. ad inveniendum unum clericum ad servi- 
endum sibi ad altare, et aliis negotiis necessariis ejus."- 
His wood to be granted him by the president on the 
progress. He was not to absent himself beyond a certain 
time; and was to superintend the coppices, wood, and 

hedges. " Dat. 5'. die Julii. an . Hen. VIII vi . 36." 

[viz. 1546]. 

Here we see the Priory in a new light, reduced as it 
were to the state of a chantry, without prior and without 
canons, and attended only by a priest, who was also a sort 
of bailiff or woodman, his assistant clerk, and his female 
cook. Owen Oglethorpe, president, and Magd. Coll. in 
the fourth year of Edward VI., viz. 1551, granted an 
annuity of ten pounds a year for life to Nich. Langrish, 
who, from the preamble, appears then to have been fellow 
of that society : but, being now superannuated for busi- 
ness, this pension is granted him for thirty years, if he 
should live so long. It is said of him " cum jam sit 
provectioris etatis quam ut," etc. 

Laurence Stubb, president of Magd. Coll. leased out the 
Priory lands to John Sharp, husbandman, for the term 
of twenty years, as early as the seventeenth year of 
Henry VIII. viz. 1526: and it appears that Henry 
Newlyn had been in possession of a lease before, probably 
towards the end of the reign of Henry VII. Sharp's rent 
was vi 11 . per ann. Regist. B. p. 43. 

By an abstract from a lease lying before me, it appears 
that Sharp found a house, two barns, a stable, and a 
duf-house [dove-house], built, and standing on the south 
side of the old Priory, and late in the occupation of 
Newlyn. In this abstract also are to be seen the names 
of all the fields, many of which continue the same to this 
day. 1 Of some of them I shall take notice, where any thing 
singular occurs. 

1 It may not be amiss to mention here that various names of tithings, 
farms, fields, woods, etc. which appear on the ancient deeds, and evidences 
of several centuries standing, are still preserved in common use with little 


And here first we meet with Paradyss [Paradise] mede. 
Every convent had its Paradise ; which probably was an 
enclosed orchard, pleasantly laid out, and planted with 
fruit-trees. Tylehouse grove, so distinguished from having 
a tiled house near it. 1 Butt-wood close ; here the servants 
of the Priory and the village-swains exercised themselves 
with their long bows, and shot at a mark against a butt, 
or bank. 2 Cundyth [conduit] wood : the engrosser of the 
lease not understanding this name has made a strange 
barbarous word of it. Conduit-wood was and is a steep, 
rough cow-pasture, lying above the Priory, at about a 
quarter of a mile to the south-west. In the side of this 
field there is a spring of water that never fails ; at the head 
of which a cistern was built which communicated with 
leaden pipes that conveyed water to the monastery. When 
this reservoir was first constructed does not appear, we 
only know that it underwent a repair in the episcopate of 
bishop Wainfleet, about the year 14.62? Whether these 
pipes only conveyed the water to the Priory for common 
and culinary purposes, or contributed to any matters of 
ornament and elegance, we shall not pretend to say ; nor 
when artists and mechanics first understood any thing of 
hydraulics, and that water confined in tubes would rise to 
its original level. There is a person now living who had 
been employed formerly in digging for these pipes, and 
once discovered several yards, which they sold for old lead. 

or no variation : as Norton, Southington, Burton, Achangre, Blackmore, 
Bradshot, Rood, Plestor, etc. etc. At the same time it should be acknow- 
ledged that other places have entirely lost their original titles, as le Buri 
and Trucstede in this village; and la Liega, or la Lyge, which was the 
name of the original site of the Priory, etc. 

1 Men at first heaped sods, or fern, or heath, on their roofs to keep off 
the inclemencies of the weather : and then by degrees laid straw or haum. 
The first refinements on roofing were shingles, which are very ancient. 
Tiles are a very late and imperfect covering, and were not much in use 
till the beginning of the sixteenth century. The first tiled house at 
Nottingham was in 1503. 

2 There is also a Butt-close just at the back of the village. 

8 N. 381. " Clausure terre abbatie ecclesie parochiali de Seleburne, 
ixj. imd. Reparacionibus domorum predicti prioratus iiii. Kb. xi/. 
Aque conduct, ibidem, xxiii*/." 


There was also a plot of ground called Tan-house 
garden : and " Tannaria sua," a tan-yard of their own, has 
been mentioned in Letter XVI. This circumstance I just 
take notice of, as an instance that monasteries had trades 
and occupations carried on within themselves. 1 

Registr. B. pag. 112. Here we find a lease of the 
parsonage of Selborne to Thomas Sylvester and Miles 
Arnold, husbandmen of the tythes of all manner of corne 
pertaining to the parsonage with the offerings at the 
chapel at Whaddon belonging to the said parsonage. Dat. 
June i. 27 th . Hen. 8 th . [viz. 1536]. 

As the chapel of Whaddon has never been mentioned 
till now, and as it is not noticed by bishop Tanner in his 
Notitia Monastica, some more particular account of it will 
be proper in this place. Whaddon was a chapel of ease to 
the mother church of Selborne, and was situated in the 
tithing of Oakhanger, at about two miles distance from 
the village. The farm and field whereon it stood are 
still called chapel-farm and field : 2 but there are no 
remains or traces of the building itself, the very founda- 
tions having been destroyed before the memory of man. 
In a farm yard at Oakhanger we remember a large hollow 
stone of a close substance, which had been used as a hog- 
trough, but was then broken. This stone, tradition said, 
had been the baptismal font of Whaddon chapel. The 
chapel had been in a very ruinous state in old days ; but 
was new built at the instance of bishop Wainfleet, about 
the year 1463, during the first priorship of Berne, in 
consequence of a sequestration issued forth by that visitor 
against the Priory on account of notorious and shameful 
dilapidations. 3 

1 There is still a wood near the Priory called Tanner's wood. 

2 This is a manor-farm, at present the property of Lord Stawell ; and 
belonged probably in ancient times to Jo. de Venur, or Venuz, one of 
the first benefactors to the Priory. 

3 See Letter XIX. of these Antiquities. " Summa total, solut. de novis 
edificationibus, et reparacionibus per idem tempus, ut patet per comput." 

"Videlicet de nova edificat. Capelle Marie de Wadden. xiiii. lib. 
vs. v\\\d. Reparacionibus ecclesie Prioratus, canceller, et capellar. 
ecclesiarum et capellarum de Selborne, et Estworhlam." etc. etc. 


The Selborne rivulet becomes of some breadth at Oak- 
hanger, and, in very wet seasons, swells to a large flood. 
There is a bridge over the stream at this hamlet of 
considerable antiquity and peculiar shape, known by the 
name of Tunbridge : it consists of one single blunt gothic 
arch, so high and sharp as to render the passage not very 
convenient or safe. Here was also, we find, a bridge in 
very early times ; for Jacobus de Hochangre, the first 
benefactor to the Priory of Selborne, held his estate at 
Hochangre by the service of providing the king one foot- 
soldier for forty days, and by building this bridge. 
" Jacobus de Hochangre tenet Hochangre in com. South- 
ampton per Serjantiam, 1 inveniendi unum valectum in 
exercitu Domini regis [scil. Henrici III" 1 .] per 40 dies ; 
et ad faciendum pontem de Hochangre : et valet per 
ann. C. s." Blount's Ancient Tenures, p. 84. 

A dove-house was a constant appendage to a manerial 
dwelling : of this convenience more will be said hereafter. 

A corn-mill was also esteemed a necessary appendage of 
every manor ; and therefore was to be expected of course 
at the Priory of Selborne. 

The prior had secta molendini, or ad molendinum : 2 a 
power of compelling his vassals to bring their corn to be 
ground at his mill, according to old custom. He had 
also, according to bishop Tanner, secta mokndini de Strete : 
but the purport of Strete, we must confess, we do not 
understand. Strete, in old English, signifies a road or 
highway, as Waiting Strete, etc. therefore the prior might 
have some mill on a high road. The Priory had only one 
mill originally at Selborne ; but, by grants of lands, it 
came possessed of one at Durton, and one at Oakhanger, 
and probably some on its other several manors. 3 The 

1 Sargentia, a sort of tenure of doing something for the king. 

2 " Servitium, quo feudatorii grana sua ad Domini molendinum, ibi 
molenda perferre, ex consuetudine, astringuntur." 

3 Thomas Knowles, president, etc. ann. Hen. 8vi. xxiii. [viz. 1532] 
demised to J. Whitelie their mills, etc. for twenty years. Rent xxiii/. 
iiii</. Accepted Frewen, president, etc. ann. Caroli xv. [viz. 1640] 
demised to Jo. Hook and Elizabeth, his wife, the said mills. Rent as 


mill at the Priory was in use within the memory of man, 
and the ruins of the mill-house were standing within these 
thirty years : the pond and dam, and miller's dwelling, 
still remain. As the stream was apt to fail in very dry 
summers, the tenants found their situation very distressing, 
for want of water, and so were forced to abandon the spot. 
This inconvenience was probably never felt in old times, 
when the whole district was nothing but woodlands : and 
yet several centuries ago there seem to have been two or 
three mills between Well-head and the Priory. For the 
reason of this assertion, see Letter XXIX. to Mr. 

Occasional mention has been made of the many 
privileges and immunities enjoyed by the convent and its 
priors ; but a more particular state seems to be necessary. 
The author therefore thinks this the proper place, before 
he concludes these antiquities, to introduce all that has 
been collected by the judicious bishop Tanner, respecting 
the Priory and its advantages, in his Notitia Monastica, a 
book now seldom seen, on account of the extravagance of 
its price ; and being but in few hands cannot be easily 
consulted. 1 He also adds a few of its many privileges 
from other authorities : the account is as follows. 
Tanner, page 166. 


A priory of black canons, founded by the often- 
mentioned Peter de Rupibus, bishop of Winchester, A.D. 
1233, and dedicated to the blessed Virgin Mary : but was 
suppressed and granted to William Wainfleet, bishop of 
Winchester, who made it part of the endowment of St. 
Mary Magdalene College in Oxford. The bishops of 
Winchester were patrons of it. [Pat. 17. Edw. II.] Vide 
in Man. Angl. torn. II. p. 343. " Cartam fundationis ex 

1 A few days after this was written a new edition of this valuable 
work was announced, in the month of April of the year 1787, as 
published by Mr. Nasmith. 


ipso autographo in archivis Coll. Magd. Oxon. ubi etiam 
conservata sunt registra, cartae, rentalia et alia munimenta 
ad hunc prioratum spectantia. 

" Extracta quaedam e registro MSS. in Bibl. Bodl. 
Dodsworth, vol. 89. f. 140." 

" Cart, antiq. N. N. n. 33. P. P. n. 48. et 71. Q. Q. n. 
40. plac. coram justit. itin. [Southampton] 20 Hen. rot. 
25. De eccl. de Basing, & Basingstoke. Plac. de juratis 
apud Winton. 40 Hen. III. rot. Prosecta molendini de 
Strete. Cart. 54. Hen. III. m. 3. [De mercatu, & feria 
apud Seleborne, a mistake.] Pat. 9. Edw. I. m. Pat. 30. 
Edw. I. m. Pat. 33. Edw. I. p. i. m. Pat. 35. Edw. I. 
m. Pat. i. Edw. II. p. i. m. 9. Pat. 5. Edw. II. p. i. m. 
21. De terris in Achanger. Pat. 6. Edw. II. p. i. m. 7. de 
eisdem. Brev. in Scacc. 6. Edw. II. Pasch. rot. 8. Pat. 17. 
Edw. II. p. i. m. Cart. 10. Edw. III. n. 24. Quod 
terrae suae in Seleburne, Achangre, Norton, Basings, 
Basingstoke, and Nately, sint de afforestatae, and pro aliis 
libertatibus. Pat. 12. Edw. III. p. 3. m. 3. Pat. 13. Edw. 
III. p. i. m. Cart. 18. Edw. III. n. 24."- 

" N. N. 33. Rex concessit quod prior, et canonici de 
Seleburn habeant per terras suas de Seleburne, Achangre, 
Norton, Brompden, Basinges, Basingstoke, & Nately, 
diversas libertates. 

"P. P. 48. Quod prior de Seleburne, habeat terras 
suas quietas de vasto, et regardo." Extracts from Ayloffe's 
Calendars of Ancient Charters. 

" Placita de juratis & assis coram Salom de RofF, & sociis 
suis justic. itiner. apud Wynton in comitatu Sutht. anno 
regni R. Edvardi filii reg. Henr. octavo. Et Por de Sele- 
born ht in Selebr. fure. thurset. pillory, emendasse panis, & 
suis." [cerevisiae.] Chapter-house, Westminster. 

" Placita Foreste apud Wynton in com. Sutham. Anno 
reg. Edwardi octavo coram Rog. de Clifford. &c. Justic. 
ad eadem placita audienda et tminand. assigtis. 

" Carta Pror de Seleburn, H. Dei gra. rex. angl. &c. 
Concessim. prior, see. Marie de Seleburn. et canonicis ibidem 
Deo servient. q ipi et oes hoies sui in pdcis terris 


suis et tenementis manentes sint in ppetum quieti de sectis 
Swanemotor. et omnium alior. placitor. for. et de espelta- 
mentis canum. et de omnibus submonitoibz. placitis querelis 
et exaccoibus et occoibz. ad for. et for. et viridar. et eor. 
ministros ptinentibz." Chapter-house, Westminster. 

" Plita Forestarum in com. Sutht. apud Suthamton 
anno regni regis Edwardi tcii post conquestum quarto coram 
Johe Mantvers. &c. justic. itinand. &c." 

De hiis qui clamant libtates infra Forestas in com. Sutht. 

"Prior de Selebourne clamat esse quietus erga dnm 
regem de omnibus finibus et amerciamentis p tnsgr. et 
omnibus exaccoibz ad Dom. regem vel hered. suos ptinent. 
pret. plita corone reg. 

" Item clamat q d si aliquis hominum suorum de terris et 
ten. p. delicto suo vitam aut membrum debeat amittere vel 
fugiat, & judico stare noluerit vel aliud delictum fecit pro 
quo debeat catella sua amittere, ubicunq; justitia fieri 
debeat omnia catella ilia sint ptci Prioris et successor, suor. 
Et liceat eidem priori et ballis suis ponere se in seisinam in 
hujusmodi catall. in casibus pdcis sine disturbacone ballivor. 
dni reg. quorumcunque. 

" Item clam, quod licet aliqua libtatum p dnm regem con- 
cessar. pcessu temporis quocunq; casu contingente usi non 
fuerint nlominus postea eadm libtate uti possit. Et pdcus 
prior quesitus p. justic. quo waranto clamat omn. terr. et 
ten. sua in Seleburne, Norton, Basynges, Basyngestoke, & 
Nattele, que prior domus pdte huit & tenuit X mo . die April 
anno regni dni Hen. reg. pavi dni reg. nue XVIII. imppm 
esse quieta de vasto et regardo, et visu forestarior. et viri- 
darior. regardator. et omnium ministrorum foreste," 
etc. etc. Chapter-house, Westminster. 



THOUGH the evidences and documents of the Priory and 
parish of Selborne are now at an end, yet, as the author 
has still several things to say respecting the present state of 
that convent and its Grange, and other matters, he does 
not see how he can acquit himself of the subject without 
trespassing again on the patience of the reader by adding 
one supplementary letter. 

No sooner did the Priory (perhaps much out of repair 
at the time) become an appendage to the college, but it 
must at once have tended to swift decay. Magdalen College 
wanted now only two chambers for the chantry priest and 
his assistant ; and therefore had no occasion for the hall, 
dormitory, and other spacious apartments belonging to so 
large a foundation. The roofs neglected, would soon 
become the possession of daws and owls ; and, being rotted 
and decayed by the weather, would fall in upon the floors ; 
so that all parts must have hastened to speedy dilapidation 
and a scene of broken ruins. Three full centuries have 
now passed since the dissolution ; a series of years that 
would craze the stoutest edifices. But, besides the slow 
hand of time, many circumstances have contributed to 
level this venerable structure with the ground ; of which 
nothing now remains but one piece of a wall of about ten 
feet long, and as many feet high, which probably was part 
of an out-house. As early as the latter end of the reign 
of Hen. VII. we find that a farm-house and two barns 
were built to the south of the Priory, and undoubtedly 
out of its materials. Avarice again has much contributed 
to the overthrow of this stately pile, as long as the tenants 
could make money of its stones or timbers. Wantonness, 
no doubt, has had a share in the demolition ; for boys love 
to destroy what men venerate and admire. A remarkable 
instance of this propensity the writer can give from his 
own knowledge. When a schoolboy, more than fifty 
years ago, he was eye-witness, perhaps a party concerned, 


in the undermining a portion of that fine old ruin at 
the north end of Basingstoke town, well known by the 
name of Holy Ghost Chapel. Very providentially the vast 
fragment, which these thoughtless little engineers en- 
deavoured to sap, did not give way so soon as might have 
been expected ; but it fell the night following, and with 
such violence that it shook the very ground, and, awaken- 
ing the inhabitants of the neighbouring cottages, made 
them start up in their beds as if they had felt an earth- 
quake. The motive for this dangerous attempt does not 
so readily appear : perhaps the more danger the more 
honour thought the boys ; and the notion of doing some 
mischief gave a zest to the enterprise. As Dryden says 
upon another occasion, 

"It look'd so like a sin it pleas'd the more." 

Had the Priory been only levelled to the surface of the 
ground, the discerning eye of an antiquary might have 
ascertained its ichnography, and some judicious hand might 
have developed its dimensions. But, besides other ravages, 
the very foundations have been torn up for the repair of the 
highways : so that the site of this convent is now become 
a rough, rugged pasture-field, full of hillocks and pits, 
choked with nettles, and dwarf-elder, and trampled by 
the feet of the ox and the heifer. 

As the tenant at the Priory was lately digging among 
the foundations, for materials to mend the highways, his 
labourers discovered two large stones, with which the 
farmer was so pleased that he ordered them to be taken 
out whole. One of these proved to be a large Doric 
capital, worked in good taste ; and the other a base of a 
pillar ; both formed out of the soft freestone of this 
district. These ornaments, from their dimensions, seem 
to have belonged to massive columns ; and show that the 
church of this convent was a large and costly edifice. 
They were found in the space which has always been 
supposed to have contained the south transept of the 
Priory church. Some fragments of large pilasters were 
also found at the same time. The diameter of the capital 


was two feet three inches and an half ; and of the column, 
where it had stood on the base, eighteen inches and three 

Two years ago some labourers digging again among the 
ruins found a sort of rude thick vase or urn of soft stone, 
containing about two gallons in measure, on the verge of the 
brook, in the very spot which tradition has always pointed 
out as having been the site of the convent kitchen. This 
clumsy utensil, 1 whether intended for holy water, or what- 
ever purpose, we were going to procure, but found that 
the labourers had just broken it in pieces, and carried it 
out on the highways. 

The Priory of Selborne had possessed in this village a 
Grange, an usual appendage to manerial estates, where the 
fruits of their lands were stowed and laid up for use, at a 
time when men took the natural produce of their estates 
in kind. The mansion of this spot is still called the 
Grange, and is the manor-house of the convent possessions 
in this place. The author has conversed with very ancient 
people who remembered the old original Grange ; but it 
has long given place to a modern farm-house. Magdalen 
College holds a court-leet and court-baron 2 in the great 
wheat-barn of the said Grange, annually, where the President 
usually superintends, attended by the bursar and steward 
of the college. 3 

The following uncommon presentment at the court is 
not unworthy of notice. There is on the south side of the 
king's field (a large common-field so called), a considerable 
tumulus, or hillock, now covered with thorns and bushes, 
and known by the name of Kite's Hill, which is presented, 

1 A judicious antiquary, who saw this vase, observed, that it possibly 
might have been a standard measure between the monastery and its 
tenants. The priory we have mentioned claimed the assize of bread and 
beer in Selborne manor : and probably the adjustment of dry measures for 
grain, etc. 

2 The time when this court is held is the mid-week between Easter 
and Whitsuntide. 

3 Owen Oglethorp, president, etc. an. Edw. Sexfi, primo [viz. 1547] 
demised to Robert Arden Selborne Grange for twenty years. Rent 
vi". Index of Leases. 


year by year, in court as not ploughed. Why this injunc- 
tion is still kept up respecting this spot, which is sur- 
rounded on all sides by arable land, may be a question not 
easily solved, since the usage has long survived the know- 
ledge of the intention thereof. We can only suppose that 
as the prior, besides thurset and pillory, had also furcas, a 
power of life and death, that he might have reserved this 
little eminence as the place of execution for delinquents. 
And there is the more reason to suppose so, since a spot 
just by is called Gaily [Gallows] hill. 

The lower part of the village next the Grange, in which 
is a pond and a stream, is well known by the name of 
Gracious-street, an appellation not at all understood. 
There is a lake in Surrey, near Chobham, called also 
Gracious-pond : and another, if we mistake not, near 
Hedleigh, in the county of Hants. This strange denomi- 
nation we do not at all comprehend, and conclude that it 
may be a corruption from some Saxon word, itself perhaps 

It has been observed already, that Bishop Tanner 
was mistaken when he refers to an evidence of Dodsworth, 
" De mercatu et FERIA de Seleburne." Selborne never had 
a chartered fair ; the present fair was set up since the 
year 1681, by a set of jovial fellows, who had found in an 
old almanack that there had been a fair here in former 
days on the first of August ; and were desirous to revive 
so joyous a festival. Against this innovation the vicar set 
his face, and persisted in crying it down, as the probable 
occasion of much intemperance. However the fair pre- 
vailed ; but was altered to the twenty-ninth of May, 
because the former day often interfered with wheat-harvest. 
On that day it still continues to be held, and is become an 
useful mart for cows and calves. Most of the lower 
house-keepers brew beer against this holiday, which is 
dutied by the exciseman ; and their becoming victuallers 
for the day without a license is overlooked. 

Monasteries enjoyed all sorts of conveniences within 
themselves. Thus at the priory, a low and moist situation, 
there were ponds and stews for their fish : at the same 


place also, and at the Grange in Culver-croft, 1 there were 
dove-houses ; and on the hill opposite to the Grange the 
prior had a warren, as the names of the Coney-crofts and 
Coney-croft Hanger plainly testify. 2 

Nothing has been said as yet respecting the tenure or 
holding of the Selborne estates. Temple and Norton are 
manor farms and freehold ; as is the manor of Chapel near 
Oakhanger, and also the estate at Oakhanger-house and 
Blackmoor. The Priory and Grange are leasehold under 
Magdalen-college, for twenty-one years, renewable every 
seven : all the smaller estates in and round the village are 
copyhold of inheritance under the college, except the little 
remains of Gurdon-manor, which had been of old leased 
out upon lives, but have been freed of late by their present 
lord, as fast as those lives have dropped. 

Selborne seems to have derived much of its prosperity 
from the near neighbourhood of the Priory. For monas- 
teries were of considerable advantage to places where they 
had their sites and estates, by causing great resort, by 
procuring markets and fairs, by freeing them from the 
cruel oppression of forest-laws, and by letting their lands 
at easy rates. But, as soon as the convent was suppressed, 
the town which it had occasioned began to decline, and 
the market was less frequented ; the rough and sequestered 
situation gave a check to resort, and the neglected roads 
rendered it less and less accessible. 

That it had been a considerable place for size formerly 
appears from the largeness of the church, which much 
exceeds those of the neighbouring villages ; by the ancient 
extent of the burying ground, which, from human bones 
occasionally dug up, is found to have been much encroached 
upon ; by giving a name to the hundred ; by the old founda- 
tions and ornamented stones, and tracery of windows that 
have been discovered on the north-east side of the village ; 
and by the many vestiges of disused fish-ponds still to be 
seen around it. For ponds and stews were multiplied in 
the times of popery, that the affluent might enjoy some 

1 Culver, as has been observed before, is Saxon for a pigeon. 

2 A warren was an usual appendage to a manor. 


variety at their tables on fast days ; therefore the more 
they abounded the better probably was the condition of the 

Afore Particulars respecting the Old Family Tortoise, omitted 
in the Natural History. 

BECAUSE we call this creature an abject reptile, we are too 
apt to undervalue his abilities, and depreciate his powers of 
instinct. Yet he is, as Mr. Pope says of his lord, 
" Much too wise to walk into a well " : 

and has so much discernment as not to fall down an haha ; 
but to stop and withdraw from the brink with the readiest 

Though he loves warm weather he avoids the hot sun ; 
because his thick shell, when once heated, would, as the 
poet says of solid armour "scald with safety." He 
therefore spends the more sultry hours under the umbrella 
of a large cabbage-leaf, or amidst the waving forests of an 

But as he avoids heat in the summer, so, in the decline 
of the year, he improves the faint autumnal beams, by 
getting within the reflection of a fruit-wall : and, though he 
never has read that planes inclining to the horizon receive 
a greater share of warmth, 1 he inclines his shell, by tilting 
it against the wall, to collect and admit every feeble ray. 

Pitiable seems the condition of this poor embarrassed 
reptile : to be cased in a suit of ponderous armour, which 
he cannot lay aside ; to be imprisoned, as it were, within his 
own shell, must preclude, we should suppose, all activity 
and disposition for enterprise. Yet there is a season of the 
year (usually the beginning of June) when his exertions 
are remarkable. He then walks on tiptoe, and is stirring 

1 Several years ago a book was written entitled " Fruit-walls improved 
by inclining them to the horizon " : in which the author has shown, by 
calculation, that a much greater number of the rays of the sun will fall 
on such walls than on those which are perpendicular. 


by five in the morning ; and, traversing the garden, 
examines every wicket and interstice in the fences, through 
which he will escape if possible : and often has eluded the 
care of the gardener, and wandered to some distant field. 
The motives that impel him to undertake these rambles 
seem to be of the amorous kind ; his fancy then becomes 
intent on sexual attachments, which transport him beyond 
his usual gravity, and induce him to forget for a time his 
ordinary solemn deportment. 


No. i 

No. 6 ^ 

Carta Petri et conventus ecclesie Winton. pro fundatione 
prior atus de Seleburne, etc. dat. 1233 

OMNIBUS Christ! fidelibus ad quos presens scriptum per- 
venerit. P. divina miseracione Winton ecclesie minister 
humilis salutem in Domino : Ex officio pastorali tenemur 
viros religiosos, qui pauperes spiritu esse pro Christo 
neglectis lucris temporalibus elegerunt ; spirituali affectu 
diligere, fovere pariter et creare, eorumq; quieti sollicite 
providere ; ut tanto uberiores fructus de continua in lege 
Dei meditatione percipiant, quanto a conturbationibus 
malignorum amplius fuerint ex patroni provisione et 
ecclesiastica defensione securi. Hinc est quod universitati 
vestre notificamus, nos divine caritatis instinctu, de assensu 
conventus ecclesie nostre Winton, fundasse domum reli- 
giosam, ordinis magni patris Augustini, in honore Dei et 
gloriose semper virginis ejusdem Dei genetricis Marie, 
apud Seleburne ; ibidemque canonicos regulares instituisse : 
ad quorum sustentationem et hospitum et pauperum 
susceptionem, dedimus, concessimus, et presenti carta 
nostra confirmavimus eisdem canonicis, totam terram 



quam habuimus de dono Jacob! de Acangre : et totam 
terram, cursum aque, boscum et pratum que habuimus 
de dono Jacobi de Nortone ; et totam terram boscum 
et redditum que habuimus de dono domini Henrici 
regis Anglie; cum omnibus predictarum possessionum 
pertinentiis. Dedimus etiam et concessimus in proprios 
usus eisdem canonicis ecclesiam predicte ville de Seleburne, 
et ecclesias de Basing, et de Basingestok, cum omnibus 
earundem ecclesiarum capellis, libertatibus, et aliis pertinen- 
ciis ; salva honesta et sufficient! sustentatione vicariorum in 
predictis ecclesiis ministrantium ; quorum presentatio ad 
priorem predicte domus religiose de Seleburne et canonicos 
ejusdem loci in perpetuum pertinebit. Preterea possessiones 
et redditus, ecclesias sive decimas, quas in episcopatu nostro 
adempti sunt, vel in posterum, Deo dante, justis modis 
poterunt adipisci, sub nostra et Wintdn ecclesie protectione 
suscepimus, et episcopalis auctoritate officii confirmavimus ; 
eadem auctoritate firmiter inhibentes, ne quis locum, in 
quo divino sunt officio mancipati, seu alias eorum pos- 
sessiones, invadere vi vel fraude vel ingenio malo occupare 
audeat, vel etiam retinere, aut fratres converses, servientes, 
vel homines eorum aliqua violentia perturbare, sive fugientes 
ad eos causa salutis sue conservande a septis domus sue 
violenter presumat extraere. Precipimus autem ut in eadem 
domo religiosa de Seleburne ordo canonicus, et regularis 
conversatio, secundum regulam magni patris Augustini, 
quam primi inhabitatores professi sunt, in perpetuum 
observetur ; et ipsa domus religiosa a cujuslibet alterius 
domus religiose subjectione libera permaneat, et in omni- 
bus absoluta; salva in omnibus episcopal! auctoritate, et 
Winton ecclesie dignitate. Quod ut in posterum ratum 
permaneat et inconcussum, present! scripto et sigilli nostri 
patrocinio duximus confirmandum. His testibus domino 
Waltero abbate de Hyda. Domino Walters Priore de 
sancto Swithuno, domino Stephano priore de Motesfonte, 
magistro Alano de Stoke; magistro "Willo de sancte Marie 
ecclesia, tune officiali nostro ; Luca archidiacon' de surr'. 
magistro Humfrido de Millers, Henrico et Hugone capel- 
lanis, Roberto de Clinchamp, et Petro Rossinol clericis, 


et multis aliis. Datum apud Wines' per manum P. de 
cancellis. In die sanctorum martirum Fabiani et Sebastian!. 
Anno Domi millesimo ducentesimo tricesimo tercio. 

Seal, two saints and a bishop praying : 

Legend: SVL M. SIT6. BONI. P6TR' PAVL' 6 



(Ni 108) 

Carta petens Ucentiam eligendi prelatum a Domino Episcopo 

Defuncto prelato forma petendi licentiam eligendi 

DOMINO et patri in Christo reverendo domino et P. Dei 
gratia Wintoniensi episcopo, devoti sui filii supprior mon- 
asterii de S. Wintoniensis dioceseos salutem cum subjectione 
humili, reverentiam, et honorem. Monasterio nostro de 
S. in quo sub protectione vestra vivimus, sub habitu 
regulari, Prioris solacio destitute per mortem bone memorie, 
etc. quondam Prioris nostri, qui tali hora in aurora diem 
clausit extremum, vestre paternitati reverende et domina- 
tioni precipue istum nostrum et nostri monasterii casum 
flebilem cum merore nunciamus; ad vestre paternitatis 
refugium fratres nostros A. et C. canonicos destinantes, 
rogando et petendo devote quatenus nobis dignemini licen- 
ciam tribuere, ut monasterio predicto, Prioris regimine 
destitute, providere possimus, invocata Spiritus sancti gratia, 

1 Probably Wolvesey-house near Winchester. 


per electionem canonicam de Priore. Actum in monasterio 
predicto 5 kalend. etc. anno Domini, etc. Valeat reverenda 
paternitas vestra semper in Domino. 

Forma licende concesse 

P. Dei gratia Wintoniensis episcopus dilectis in Christo 
filiis suppriori et conventui tails loci salutem, gratiam, et 
benedictionem. Viduitatem monasterii vestri vacantis per 
mortem quondam R. Prioris vestri, cujus anime propicietur 
altissimus, paterno compacientes affectu, petitam a nobis 
eligendi licenciam vobis concedimus, ut patronus. Datum 
apud, etc. 3 kalend. Jul. anno consecrationis nostre tertio. 

Forma decretl post electionem conficiendi 

In nomine Domini nostri Jhesu Christi, Amen. Monas- 
terio beate Marie talis loci Win ton. dioc. solacio destitute per 
mortem R. quondam Prioris ipsius; ac corpore ejus, prout 
moris est, ecclesiastice sepulture commendato ; petita cum 
devocione licentia per fratres K. et . canonicos a ven : in 
Christo patre et domino domino P. Dei gratia Wintoniensi 
episcopo ejusdem monasterii patrono, eligendi priorem, et 
optenta ; die dato, a toto capitulo ad eligendum vocati fuere 
evocandi, qui debuerunt, voluerunt, et potuerunt comode 
electioni prioris in monasterio predicto interesse : omnes 
canonici in capitulo ejusdem ecclesie convener unt tali die, 
anno Dom. etc. ad tractandum de electione sui prioris faci- 
enda ; qui, invocata Spiritus Sancti gratia, ad procedendum 
per formam scrutinii concencientes. 

(N. 108) 

Modus procedendi ad electionem per formam scrutinii 

OMNIBUS in capitulo congregatis qui debent voluntetpossunt 
comode interesse electioni eligendi sunt tres de capitulo 1 non 

1 Fratres canonicos. See Forma decreti, etc. 


nostro obediencias ores, 1 qui erunt scrutatores, et sedebunt in 
angulo capituli ; et primo requirent vota sua propria, vide- 
licet, duo requirent tertium et duo alterum, etc. dicendo sic, 
" Frater P. in quern concentis ad eligendum in prelatum 
nostrum ?" quibus examinatis, et dictis eorum per vicem ex 
ipsis in scriptura redactis, vocabunt ad se omnes fratres sin- 
gillatim, primo suppriorem, etc. Et unus de tribus exami- 
natoribus scribet dictum cujuslibet. Celebrato scrutinio, 
publicare db coram omnibus. Facta ptmoud concensum col- 
lectione apparebit in quern pars major capituli et sanior con- 
centit ; quo viso, major pars dicet minori, " Cum major 
pars et sanior capituli nostri concenciat in fratrem R. ipse 
est eligendus, unde, si placet, ipsum communiter eligamus"; 
si vero omnes acquieverint, tune ille qui majorem vocem 
habet in capitulo surgens dicet, " Ego frater R. pro toto 
capitulo eligo fratrem R. nobis in pastorem"; et omnes 
dicent; "Placet nobis." Et incipient, " TE DEUM LAUD- 
AMUS." Si vero in unum concordare nequiverint, tune 
hiis, qui majorem vocem habet inter illos qui majorem et 
saniorem partem capituli constituerint, dicet, " Ego pro me 
et illis qui mecum concenciunt in fratrem R. eligo ipsum 
in," etc. Et illi dicent, " Placet nobis," etc. 

Forma recte presentandi electum 

Reverendo in Christo patri et domino domino P. Dei 
gratia Winton. episcopo devoti sui filii frater R. Supprior 
conventualis beate Marie de tali loco, et ejusdem loci Con- 
ventus, cum subjectione humili, omnem obedienciam, re- 
verenciam, et honorem. Cum conventualis ecclesia beate 
Marie talis loci, in qua sub protectione vestra vivimus sub 
habitu regular!, per mortem felicis recordationis R. quondam 
prioris nostri destituta ecclesia priore, qui 6 to kalend. Jul. 
in aurora anno Dom. etc. diem clausit extremum ; de cor- 
pore ejus, prout moris est, ecclesiastice tradito sepulture ; 
petita a vobis, tanquam a Domino, et vero ejusdem ecclesie 
patrono et pastore, licencia eligendi priorem et optenta; 

1 Obedientiores sc. more regular. In virtute obedientiae occurs in 
Not. Visit, 


convenientibus omnibus canonicis predicte ecclesie in capi- 
tulo nostro, qui voluerunt debuerunt et potuerunt comode 
election! nostre interesse, tali die anno Dom. supradicto, 
invocata Spiritus Sancti gratia, fratrem R. de C. ejusdem 
ecclesie canonicum unanimi assensu et voluntate in priorem 
nostrum, ex puris votis singulorum, unanimiter eligimus. 
Quern reverende paternitati vestre et dominacioni precipue 
Priorem vero patrono nostro et pastore confirmandum, si 
placet, tenore presentium presentamus ; dignitatem vestram 
humiliter et devote rogantes, quatenus, dicte election! 
felicem prebere volentes assensum, eidem R. electo nostro 
nunc confirmabitis, et quod vestrum est pastorali solicitudine 
impendere dignemini. In cujus rei testimonium presentes 
litteras sigillo capituli nostri signatas paternitati vestre trans- 
mittimus. Valeat reverenda paternitas vestra semper in 
Domino. Datum tali loco die et anno supradictis. Omnes 
et singuli, per fratres A. B. et C. ejusdem ecclesie canonicos 
de voluntate tocius conventus ad inquirenda vota singulorum 
constitutes, secreto et singillatim requisiti ; tandem publi- 
cato scrutinio et facta votorum colectione inventum est, 
majorem et seniorem partem tocius capituli dicte ecclesie in 
fratrem S. de B. dicte ecclesie canonicum unanimiter et 
concorditer concencisse ; vel sic, quando inventum omnes 
canonicos dicte ecclesie preter duos in fratrem, A.D. quibus 
statim majori parti eligendum adquiescenter : frater k. 
supprior ecclesie memorate, juxta potestatem sibi a toto 
conventu traditam, vice consociorum suorum et sua ac 
tocius conventus, dictum fratrem S. de B. in priorem ejus- 
dem ecclesie elegit, sub hac forma ; " Ego frater supprior 
conventualis ecclesie beate Marie talis loci, potestate et 
auctoritate mihi a toto conventu dicte ecclesie tradita et 
commissa, quando, puplicato scrutinio et omnibus circa hoc 
rite peractis, inveni majorem et partem seniorem tocius 
capituli nostri in fratrem S. de B. virum providum unani- 
miter concencisse, ipsum nobis et ecclesie nostre, vice tocius 
conventus, in priorem eligendum ; et eidem election! sub- 
scribe ; cui electioni omnes canonici nostri concencerunt, 
et subscripserunt." " Ego frater de C. present! electioni 
concencio, et subscribo." Et sic de singulis electoribus ; 


in cujus rei testimonium sigillum capituli nostri apponi feci- 
mus ad presentes. 


Visitatio Notabilis de Seleburne 


WILLMUS permissione divina Winton Episcopus dilectis 
filiis Priori et Conventui Prioratus de Selborne Ordinis S li . 
Augustini, nostrae dioceseos, Salutem, gratiam, et ben. 
Suscepti regiminis cura pastoralis officii nos inducit invigi- 
lare solicite nostrorum remediis subjectorum, et eorum 
obviare periculis ac scandala removere ; ut sic de vinea 
domini per cultoris providi sarculum vicia extirpentur 
inferantur virtutes, excessus debite corrigantur, et sub- 
ditorum mores in nimium prolapsorum per apposicionem 
moderaminis congrui reformentur : Hanc nempe solicitudi- 
nem nostris humeris incumbentem assidua meditacione 
pensantes, ne sanguis vester de manibus nostris requiratur, 
ad vos et vestrum Prioratum supradictum, prout nostro 
incumbebat officio pastorali, nuper ex causa descendirnus 
visitandi ; et dum inter vos nostre visitacionis officium 
iteratis vicibus actualiter exercuimus, nonnulla reperimus, 
que non solum obviant regularibus institutis, verum eciam 
que religioni vestre non congruunt, nee conveniunt 
honestati ; ad que per nostrum antidotum debite refor- 
manda opem et operam prout expedit et oportet apponimus, 
quas credimus efficaces, infra scripta siquidem precepta 
nostra pariter et decreta, sanctorum patrum constitucion- 
ibus editis et debite promulgatis canonicisque ac regularibus 
institutis fulcita, vobis nostri sigilli roborata munimine 
transmittimus, inter vos futuris temporibus efficaciter 
observanda, quatinus ad Dei laudem, divini cultus ac vestrae 


religionis augmentum, ipsis mediantibus, per viam salutis 
feliciter incedatis ; mores et actus vestri abstrahantur a 
noxiis, et ad salutaria dirigantur. 

No. I. In primis ut Domino Deo nostro, a quo cuncta 
bona procedunt, et omnis religio immaculata sumpsit 
exordium, in Prioratu vestro predicto serviatur laudabiliter 
in divinis ; Vobis, in virtute sancte obediencie ac sub 
majoris excommunicationis sententie pena, firmiter injun- 
gendo mandamus, quatinus hore canonice, tarn de nocte 
quam de die, in choro a conventu cantentur ; misse quoque 
de beata Maria et de die, necnon misse alie consuete horis 
et devocione debitis et cum moderatis pausacionibus 
celebrentur: nee liceat alicui de conventu ab horis et 
missis hujusmodi se absentare, aut, postquam incepte 
fuerint, ante complecionem earum ab ipsis recedere 
quovismodo; nisi ex causa necessaria vel legitima per 
priorem vel suppriorem aut alium presidentem loci, ut 
convenit, approbanda ; in quo casu ipsorum omnium 
consciencias apud altissimum arctius oneramus ; con- 
trarium vero facientes in proximo tune capitulo celebrando 
absq accepcione qualibet personarum regularem subeant 
disciplinam ; acrius insuper puniendi si contumacia vel 
pertinacia delinquencium hoc exposcat ; si quis vero post 
trinam correpcionem debite se non correxerit in premissis, 
pro singulis vicibus quibus contrarium fecerit ipsum 
singulis sextis feriis in pane et aqua dumtaxat precipimus 

No. II. Item quia in visitacione nostra predicta com- 
perimus evidenter quod silencium, quasi in exilio positum, 
ad quod juxta regulam S li Augustini efficaciter estis 
astricti, locis et temporibus debitis inter vos minime 
observatur contra observancias regulares; Vobis omnibus 
et singulis firmiter injungendo mandamus, quatinus silen- 
cium, prout vos decet, regula supradicta, de cetero locis et 
temporibus hujusmodi observetis ; a vanis et frivolis 
colloquiis, sicut decet, vos penitus abstinendo : illos vero, 
qui silencium hujusmodi in locis predictis non observa- 
verint, animadversione condigna precipimus castigari ; et, 
si quis tercio super hoc legitime convictus fuerit, preter 


regularem disciplinam, die, quo debite silencium non 
tenuerit, pane et servicia dumtaxat et legumine sit 

No. III. Item quia nonnulli concanonici et confratres 
prioratus vestri predicti validi atq; sani et in sacerdocio 
constituti celebracionem missarum absq; causa legitima 
indebite ac minus voluntarie multociens, ut dicitur, negli- 
gunt et omittunt; fundatorum aliorumq; benefactorum 
suorum animas, pro quibus sacrificia offerre tenentur, 
suffrages nequiter defraudando ; Vobis, ut supra, firmiter 
injungendo mandamus, quatinus vos omnes et singuli 
Prioratus predicti concanonici et confratres in sacerdocio 
constituti frequenter confiteamini confessoribus per Priorem 
deputandis ; quos quidem confessores discretos et idoneos, 
prout numerus personarum dicti conventus exigit, per vos 
dominum Priorem predictum precipimus deputari ; miss- 
asque, impedimento cessante legitimo, tarn pro vivis quam 
pro defunctis, pro quibus orare tenemini, de cetero, 
quanto frequencius poteritis, celebretis devocius, sicut 
decet; impedimentum vero predictum cum contigerit 
Priori vel Suppriori Prioratus predicti per illud pacientes 
infra triduum declarari volumus et exponi, ac per eorum 
alterum prout justum fuerit approbari, vel eciam reprobari ; 
in quo casu ipsorum omnium tarn exponencium quam 
approbancium apud altissimum consciencias districtius 
oneramus ; contrarium vero facientes, primo super hoc 
convicti, proxima quarta feria sequenti in pane, servisia, 
et legumine ; secundo vero convicti feria quarta et sexta 
sequentibus modo consimili ; tercio vero convicti dictis 
feriis extunc sequentibus in pane et aqua jejunent, 
quousque judicio prioris se correxerint in premissis; 
statuentes preterea quod Prior et Supprior Prioratus 
predicti contra hujusmodi delinquentes semel singulis 
mensibus diligenter inquirant, et quos culpabiles invenerint 
in premissis modo predicto studeant castigare. 

No. IV. Item quia transitus communis secularium per- 
sonarum utriusque sexus per claustrum Prioratus vestri in 
congruis temporibus minime exercetur, et potissime horis 
illis quibus fratres de conventu in contemplacione sancta 


studiis quoque ac lectionibus variis inibi occupantur ; imde 
dissoluciones plurime provenerunt, et poterunt in futuro 
verisimiliter provenire, ac ipsorum fratrum quieti et 
religionis honestati plurimum derogatur : Vobis ut supra 
arcius injungendo mandamus, quatinus, cum secundum 
regulam sancti Augustini conver^acio vestra debeat esse 
a secularibus hujusmodi separata, ad animarum ac' eciam 
rerum pericula, que possent et solent ex concursu hujus- 
modi provenire, caucius evitanda; transitum communem 
predictum per prefatum claustrum de cetero fieri nullatenus 
permittatis, per quern vestra devocio et religionis honestas 
vulnerari vel eciam impediri valeant quovismodo, sub 
pena excommunicacionis majoris quam in contravenientes 
intendimus canonice fulminare : ilium vero, ad quern 
ostiorum claustri custodia pertinet, si propter illius negli- 
genciam sive culpam transitus hujusmodi sustineatur 
indebite, ut prefertur ; pro singulis vicibus, quibus hoc 
factum fuerit, singulis quartis feriis in pane, servisia, et 
legumine dumtaxat jejunet; et, si nee sic se correxerit 
debite in hac parte, ab officio deponatur, ac alius, magis 
providus, loco suo celeriter subrogetur. 

No. V. Item quia ostia ecclesie atq; claustri prioratus 
vestri predicti non servantur nee serantur temporibus 
debitis, nee modo debito, ut deceret; sed custodia 
eorundem agitur et omittitur multociens necgligenter ; 
adeo quod suspecte persone et alie inhoneste per ecclesiam 
et claustrum hujusmodi incedunt frequenter in tenebris 
atq; umbris, temporibus eciam suspectis et illicitis, indecen- 
ter ; unde dampna et scandala varia pluries provenerunt, 
et in posterum verisimiliter poterunt provenire ; Vobis, ut 
supra, mandamus, firmiter injungentes, quatinus dicta 
ostia de cetero claudi faciatis, et clausa per ministros 
idoneos custodiri temporibus debitis, prout decet ; vocis 
inhibentes expresse, ne ostia ecclesie vestre predicte (ilia 
videlicet que inter navem ipsius ecclesie et chorum ejusdem 
existunt), nee ostia claustri que ducunt ad extra, et per que 
introitus secularium in ipsum claustrum patere poterit, 
de mane, antequam prima incipiatur in choro ; aut com- 
mestionis tempore ; nee eciam de sero, postquam conventus 


collationem inceperit ; nisi in causa utili vel necessaria per 
priorem vel suppriorem, ut convenit, approbanda, 
aperiantur de cetero quovis modo : ad que fideliter 
exequenda sacristam, qui pro tempore fuerit, ad cujus 
officium permissa pertinent sub pena amocionis ab officio 
suo arcius oneramus, acrius per nos puniendum prout nobis 
videbitur expedire. 

No. VI. Item quia nonnulli concanonici et confratres 
prioratus vestri minus sapiunt in lectura, non intelligentes 
quid legant, sed literas quasi prorsus ignorantes, dum 
psallunt vel legunt, accentum brevem pro longo ponunt 
pluries, et e contra; et per invia gradientes sanum 
scripturarum intellectum adulterantur multociens, et 
pervertunt; fitque, ut dum scripturas sacras non sapiant, 
ad perpetrandum illicita proniores reddantur : Vobis 
Domino Priori in virtute obedientie, firmiter injungendo 
mandamus, quatinus, cum legere et non intelligere sit 
necgligere, noviciis et aliis minus sufficienter literatis 
idoneus de cetero deputetur magister, qui ipsos in cantu 
et aliis primitivis scienciis instruat diligenter juxta regularia 
instituta; quatinus, in eisdem perfectius eruditi, cecitatis 
squamis et ignorancie nebulis depositis, que legant intelligant 
et agnoscant, et ad contemplandum clarius misteria Scrip- 
turarum efficiantur, ut convenit, promciores. 

No. VII. Item quia constituciones sive decretales 
Romanorum Pontincum vestrum ordinem concernentes 
(ille videlicet de quibus in constitucionibus recolende 
memorie Domini Ottoboni, quondam sedis Apostolice 
in Anglia legati, fit mencio specialis), inter vos nullatenus 
recitantur, prout per constituciones ejusdem legati recitari 
mandantur; unde, dum decretales ipsas et contenta in eis 
penitus ignorantes, committitis multociens que prohibentur 
expressius per easdem in vestrarum periculum animarum : 
Vobis firmiter injungendo mandamus, quatinus, ne ignor- 
anciam aliquam pretendere poteritis in hac parte, decretales 
predictas, prout in prefatis domini constitucionibus Ottoboni 
plenius recitantur, in quodam quaterno seu volumine 
absque more dispendio faciatis conscribi ; ipsas bis singulis 
annis in vestro capitulo, juxta formam constitutionum 


dictarum, recitari clarius facientes, ad informacionem 
rudium et perfectionem eciam provectorum ; adjicientes 
preterea, ut magistri noviciorum presencium et eciam 
futurorum ipsos in regula S". Augustini diligenter 
instruant et informant, ipsam regulam eis vulgariter 
exponendo; quodque iidem novicii per frequentem 
recitacionem ejusdem illam sciant quasi cor detenus, sicut 
in dictis constitucionibus plenius continetur, per quam 
incedere poterint via recta et errorum tenebras caucius 
evitare : super execucione vero premissorum debite facienda 
dominum priorem prioratus vestri predicti arcius oneramus 
quatinus ea que premisimus in hoc casu sub pena 
suspensionis ab ipsius officio per mensem diligencius 

No. VIII. Item quia canonici et confratres prioratus 
vestri predicti, ipsorum propriam voluntatem pocius quam 
utilitatem communem sectantes, non vestes necessarias, 
cum opus fuerit, sed certam et limitatam ac determinatam 
quantitatam peccunie, velut annuum redditum, pro vestibus 
hujusmodi percipiunt annuatim, contra regulam S d . 
Augustini ac domini Ottoboni et aliorum sanctorum 
patrum canonica instituta; fitque, ut, dum effrenis ilia 
religiosorum cupiditas, aliena specie colorata, vetita 
concupiscat, sancta religio, solutis constantie frenis, in 
luxum labentem ad latitudinis tramites que ducunt ad 
mortem, miserabiliter noscitur declinare : cui quidem 
morbo pestifero, ne putrescat et vermes generet cor- 
ruptivos, mederi cicius cupientes nichil novi statuendo 
sed sanctorum patrum vestigiis inherendo, volumus ac 
eciam ordinamus, quod canonicis et confratribus memoratis 
presentibus et futuris de bonis et facultatibus communibus 
prioratus vestri predicti vestris usibus deputatis vestes 
et calciamenta, cum indiguerint, necessaria, juxta facultates 
predictas, et nullo modo peccuniam, pro eisdem, per eos 
qui super hiis ministrandi gerent officium de cetero 
ministrentur ; vestes vero inveteratas et ineptas hujusmodi 
canonicorum camerario communi tradi volumus pauperibus 
erogandas juxta regulam S li . Augustini, et alias canonicas 
sanctiones contrarium vero facientes, si camerarius fuerit, 


penam suspensionis ab officio ipsum incurrere volumus 
ipso facto; si vero alius canonicus de conventu existat, 
prefer alias pmas regulares tarn peccunia quam eciam 
indumentis novis careat illo anno. 

No. IX. Item quia nonnulli canonici et confratres 
Prioratus vestri predict! opportunitate captata, extra septa 
Prioratus absque societate honesta, evagandi causa, nulla 
super hoc optenta licencia, se transferunt pluries indecenter ; 
alii preterea provectiores certis officiis deputati ad maneria 
et loca alia officiis hujusmodi assignata equitant, quando 
placet, ibidem manentes pro eorum libito voluntatis, nullo 
canonico ipsis in socium assignato, contra ordinis decenciam 
et religionis eciam honestatem, constitucionesque Sanctorum 
Patrum editas in hac parte : Cum igitur religiosos extra 
eorum Prioratum sic vagari aut in eorum maneriis vel 
ecclesiis eis appropriatis soli manere expresse prohibeant 
canonica instituta ; nos, premissa fieri de cetero prohibentes. 
Vobis firmiter injungendo mandamus, quatinus, cum aliquis 
Prioratus vestri canonicus vel confrater super vel pro 
negociis propriis vel eciam communibus exire contigerit, 
prius ad hoc a Priore vel Suppriore, si presentes in Prioratu 
fuerint, alioquin, ipsis absentibus, ab ipso qui protunc 
conventui preesse contigerit, licenciam habeat specialem ; 
cui assignari volumus unum canonicum in socium, ne 
suspicio sinistra vel scandalum oriatur ; qui, associata eisdem 
juxta qualitatem negocii cometiva honesta, in eundo et 
eciam redeundo gravitate servata modestius semper incedant, 
et expletis negociis ad Prioratum cicius revertantur, que 
regularibus conveniunt institutis devocius impleturi : 
contrarium vero facientes, absque remissione seu accepcione 
qualibet personarum, regularem subeant disciplinam ; super 
quo presidencium conventus consciencias arcius oneramus, 
ipsosque nichilominus pro singulis vicibus, quibus excesserint 
in premissis, singulis sextis feriis in pane et aqua jejunent ; 
et si officiarius fuerit, ipso facto, si aliquod canonicum non 
obsistat, ab ipsius officio sit suspensus. 

No. X. Item quia comperimus evidenter, quod nonnulli 
canonic' domus vestre, secundum carnem pocius quam 
secundum spiritum dissolute viventes, nulla causa racionabili 


subsistente, nudi jacent in lectis absque femoralibus et 
camisiis contra eorum observancias regulares ; Vobis igitur 
firmiter injungendo mandamus, quatinus vos omnes et 
singuli canonici S li . Augustini regulam et in ea parte 
ordinis vestri canonica instituta de cetero efficaciter 
observetis : contrarium vero facientes singulis quartis 
feriis in pane, servisia, et legumine tantummodo sint 
contenti ; si quis vero post trinam correptionem reus 
inventus fuerit in hac parte pro singulis vicibus singulis 
extunc feriis sextis in pane et aqua hunc precipimus 
jejunare; Priorem vero ac Suppriorem domus predicte 
sub pena suspensionis ab officiis eorundem arcius onerantes, 
quatinus super premissis sepius et diligenter inquirant, et 
quos culpabiles invenerint eos penis predictis percellere 
non postponant. 

No. XI. Item quia nonnullos canonicos et confratres 
Prioratus vestri predicti publicos reperimus venatores ac 
venacionibus hujusmodi spreto jugo regularis observancie, 
publice intendentes, ac canes tenentes venaticos, contra 
regularia instituta ; unde dissolutiones quamplures, ani- 
marum pericula corporumque, ac rerum dispendia 
multociens oriuntur ; nos volentes hoc frequens vicium 
a Prioratu predicto radicitus extirpare ; Vobis omnibus 
et singulis tenore presencium inhibemus, vobis nichilominus 
firmiter injungentes, ne quisquam canonicorum Prioratus 
vestri predicti publicis venacionibus vel clamosis ex proposito 
intendere de cetero, vel eciam interesse ; canesve venaticos 
per se vel alios tenere presumat, publice vel occulte, infra 
Prioratum vel extra, contra formam capituli, "NE IN AGRO 
DOMINICO," et alias canonicas sanctiones ; per hoc autem 
Prioratus vestri predicti nee juri vel consuetudini, quod 
vel quam habere dinoscitur, in ea parte non intendimus in 
aliquo derogare : contrarium vero facientes preter disciplinas 
et penas alias canonicas pro singulis vicibus singulis quartis 
et sextis feriis in pane et servisia jejunando precipimus 

No. XII. Item quia canonici Prioratus vestri predicti 
quibus officia forinseca et intrinseca committuntur, fingunt 
se, cum possent et deberent in choro divinis officiis 


interesse, in officiis hujusmodi sibi commissis multociens 
occupari, que possent ante vel post horas hujusmodi 
commode fieri, et eciam exerceri ; propter quod cultus 
divinus minuitur, et alii claustrales nimium onerantur ; 
Vobis in virtute sancte obedientie et sub pena excommuni- 
cacionis majoris firmiter injungendo mandamus, quatinus 
officiarii quicunque ecclesie vestre predicte in choro ejusdem 
divinis officiis a modo personaliter intersint, nisi ex causa 
legitima officiorum suorum et per presidentem conventus, 
qui pro tempore fuerit, approbanda, eos contigerit absentare ; 
in quo casu de et super absencia sua legalitateque causarum 
pretensarum in hac parte ipsorum presidencium officiariorum 
consciencias apud altissimum districtius oneramus. 

No. XIII. Item, quia juxta sapientis doctrinam ubi 
majus iminet periculum, ibi caucius est agendum, volumus 
et eciam ordinamus, quod duo canonici discreti et idonei de 
conventu Prioratus vestri predicti per ipsum conventum 
vel majorem partem ejusdem annis singulis de cetero 
eligantur, qui bis in anno ad maneria, tarn Priori quam 
eciam pro restentacione conventus hujusmodi ceterisque 
officiariis assignata, personaliter se transferant et accedant, 
statum maneriorum ipsorum tarn in edificiis quam eciam 
in stauro vivo vel mortuo plenarie supervisuri ; quique 
super hiis que invenerunt in eisdem conventui supradicto 
relacionem fidelem in scriptis, ut convenit facere teneantur; 
ut, si mors alicujus officiarii vel casus illius fortuitus 
evenerit, de statu officii hujusmodi cujuscumque conventum 
non lateat memoratum ; premissa vero vobis precipimus 
efficaciter observanda sub pena nostro arbitrio limitanda, 
vobis, si in hiis necgligentes fueritis vel remissi, acrius 

No. XIV. Item quia solitus et antiquus numerus canoni- 
corum in Prioratu vestro predicto, quod dolenter referimus, 
adeo jam decrevit, ac eciam minuitur in presenti, quod ubi 
xiiii. canonici vel circiter in habitu et observanciis regulari- 
bus in dicto Prioratu solebant Altissimo devocius famulari 
(quibus de bonis possessionibus ipsius Prioratus vestri 
communibus que possidetis in victu et vestitu juxta 
decenciam ordinis regularis honorifice ac debite fuerat 


ministratum), modo vero undecim canonic! dumtaxat 
existunt et serviunt in eodem ; quo fit, ut dum regis regum 
cultum attenuet cohabitancium paucitas, contra multi- 
formis nequitie hostem minuatur exercitus bellatorum : 
Cum igitur juxta prefati domini Ottobini constitutiones 
aliorumque sanctorum patrum canonica instituta, canoni- 
corum antiquus numerus sit servandus, ac juxta sapientis 
doctrinam " In multitudine populi sit dignitas regis, et in 
paucitate plebis ignominia principis accendatur " ; Vobis in 
virtute sancte obedientie ac sub pena majoris excomm. 
firmiter injungendo mandamus, quatinus, cum omni 
diligentia et celeritate debitis, de viris idoneis religioni 
dispositis, et honestis vobis absque more dispendio pro- 
videre curetis ; ipsos in ordinem vestrum regularem in 
supplecionem majoris numeri requisiti, seu saltern illius 
numeri canonicorum ad quorum sustentacionem congruam, 
aliis oneribus vobis incumbentibus debite supportatis, 
vestre jam habite suppetunt facultates ; super quibus 
vestram et cujuslibet vestrum conscienciam arcius oner- 
amus ; celerius admittentes, ad augmentum cultus divini 
et perfectionem majorem ordinis regularis, pro fundatori- 
bus et benefactoribus vestris devocius, ut convenit, 

No. XV. Item quia comperimus evidenter quod vos, 
domine Prior, cui ex debito vestri officii hoc incumbit, de 
proprietariis canonicis Prioratus vestri predicti, juxta con- 
stitutiones domini legati editas in hac parte, inquisicionem 
debitam hactenus non fecistis, ministerium vobis creditum 
in ea parte necgligentius omittendo ; quo fit, ut ille 
pestifer hostis antiquus pastoris considerans continuatam 
desideam oves miseras et errantes, ipsius hostis nequissimi 
fraude deceptas in sitim avaricie prolabentes laqueo 
proprietatis seduxit, contra sanctorum patrum canonica 
instituta, in suarum grave periculum animarum ; Vos 
igitur requirimus et monemus, vobisque in virtute obedi- 
encie firmiter injungendo mandamus, quatinus dicti legati 
constitutiones, ut convenit, imitantes super proprietariis 
hujusmodi saltern bis in anno inquisicionem faciatis de 
cetero diligentem ; ipsos, si quos inveneritis, animadver- 


sione condigna juxta regularia instituta canonice punientes; 
si vero id adimplere necglexeritis, administracione vestra, 
ipso facto noveritis vos privatum, donee premissa fueritis 
diligenter executi, prout in constit. homini Ottoboni 
legati predict! plenius continetur. 

No. XVI. Item, cum secundum constit. dicti legati et 
aliorum sanctorum patrum canonica instituta, abbates et 
priores, proprios abbates non habentes, nee non officiarii 
quicunque teneantur bis saltern singulis annis presente toto 
conventu vel aliquibus ex senioribus ad hoc a capitulo 
deputatis de statu Prioratus et de administracione sua 
plenariam reddere rationem, quod turn in Prioratu vestro 
predicto invenimus hactenus non servatum, unde plura 
secuntur incommoda, et vestre utilitati communi plurimum 
derogatur ; Vobis in virtute obediencie firmiter injungendo 
mandamus, quatinus prefati domini legati, domini videlicet 
Ottoboni, necnon bone memorie domini Stephani quondam 
Archiepiscopi Cant, constit. editas in hac parte, faciatis 
inter vos de cetero firmiter observari, sub pena suspensionis 
officiariorum ipsorum ab eorum hujusmodi officiis, dictique 
Prioris ab administracione sua, quam, si permissa necglex- 
erint observare, ipso facto, donee id perfecerint, se 
noverint incurrisse, prout in dictis constit. dicti Ottoboni 
plenius continetur. 

No. XVII. Item quia in Prioratu vestro predicto et 
ecclesia ejusdem ac in nonnullis domibus, edificiis, muris et 
clausuris ecclesie vestre prelibate, necnon maneriorum 
ipsius Prioratus certis diversis officiis deputatorum, quas et 
quae precessorum et predecessorum vestrorum industria 
sumptuose construxerat, quamplures enormes et notabiles 
sunt defectus, reparatione necessaria indigentes ; unde 
statum ipsius Prioratus ac maneriorum predictorum de- 
formitas occupat, et multa incommoda insecuntur ; Vobis 
igitur in virtute obedientie firmiter injungendo mandamus, 
quatinus defectus hujusmodi, pro vestra utilitate communi 
absque dilacionis incommode, quamcicius poteritis, juxta 
vires reparari debite faciatis ; alioquin Priorem ceterosque 
officiarios quoscumque, qui in permissis necgligentes 
fuerint vel remissi, nisi infra sex menses post notifica- 


cionem presencium sibi factam ad debitam reparationem 
defectuum hujusmodi se preparaverint, cum effectu, ipso 
facto ab officiis suis hujusmodi sint suspensi. 

No XVIII. Item, quia per vendiciones et concessiones 
liberacionum et corrodiorum hactenus per vos factas, 
reperimus dictum Prioratum multipliciter fore gravatum, 
adeo quod ea, que ad divini cultus augmentum, sustenta- 
cionem pauperum, et infirmorum, pia devocio fidelium 
erogavit, mercenariorum ceca cupiditas jam absorbet ; 
fitque, ut dum bona ejusdem Prioratus in alios usus quam 
debitos, ne dixerimus in prophanos, nepharie convertantur, 
altissimo famulancium in eadem numerus minuitur, 
pauperes et infirmi suis porcionibus, ac ipsa ecclesia divinis 
obsequiis nequiter defraudantur, contra intencionem 
piissimam fundatorum, in vestrarum periculum animarum; 
Indempnitati igitur ipsius ecclesie vestre in hac parte debite 
providere, dictum quoque tarn frequens incommodum ab 
eadem radicitus extirpare volentes, bone memorie domini 
Ottoboni legati predicti aliorumque sanctorum patrum 
vestigiis inherentes ; Vobis tenore presencium districtius 
inhibemus, eciam sub pena excomm. majoris, ne corrodia, 
liberaciones, aut pensiones personis aliquibus imperpetuum 
vel ad tempus vendatis de cetero, vel aliqualiter concedatis, 
absque nostro consensu et licencia speciali ; presertim cum 
vendiciones hujusmodi, que species alienacionis existunt, 
Prioratus vestri predicti detrimentum procurent et 
enormem eciam generat lesionem ; si quis vero contra 
hanc nostram inhibicionem aliquid attemptare presumpserit, 
nisi id quod sic presumpserit revocaverit, ab officio sit 
suspensus prout in constit. domini Ottoboni clarius 

No. XIX. Item quia quedam certe perpetue cantarie 
pro fundatoribus et aliis benefactoribus vestris tarn in 
genere quam in specie antiquitus constitute per diversos 
presbyteros in Prioratu vestro predicto debite celebrande, 
pro quibus plura donaria recipistis a multis retro actis 
temporibus, ac eciam de presenti, ut asseritur, sunt sub- 
stracte, contra piam intencionem ac ordinacionem eciam 
fundatorum, in vestrarum grave periculum animarum ; 


Vobis igitur, in virtute sancte obedientie ac sub majoris 
excom. sentencie pena, firmiter injungendo mandamus, 
quatinus cantarias predictas juxta formam institucionum et 
ordinacionum earum faciatis de cetero debite celebrari, ac 
eisdem congrue deserviri, si redditus et proventus ad 
hujusmodi cantarias antiquitus assignati ad hoc sufficiant 
hiis diebus, alioquin prout redditus et proventus earum, 
aliis omnibus eisdem incumbentibus debite supportatis, 
sufficiunt de present!, dolo et fraude cessantibus quibus- 
cunque ; super quo vestram conscienciam arcius oneramus, 
a modo deserviri debite faciatis. 

No. XX. Item vobis et omnibus et singulis in virtute 
sancte obediencie ac sub majoris excom. sentencie pena 
firmiter injungendo mandamus, quatinus elemosinas in 
Prioratu vestro predicto antiquitus fieri consuetas, et eas ad 
quas tenemini ex ordinacione antiqua pro animabus funda- 
torum et aliorum benefactorum vestrorum juxta facultates 
vestras super quibus vestras consciencias arctius oneramus, 
prout divinam efrugere volueritis ulcionem distribui de cetero 
faciatis ; precipientes preterea quod fragmenta seu reliquiae 
tarn de aula Prioris quam eciam de refectorio proveniencia, 
absque diminucione qualibet, per elimosinarium vel ipsius 
locum tenentem integre colligantur, pauperibus fideliter 
eroganda ; alioquin, si elimosinarius hujusmodi remissus 
vel negligens fuerit in premissis, penam suspensionis ab 
officio se noverit incursurum. 

No. XXI. Item quia debilibus et infirmis humanitatis 
preberi subsidium jubet caritas, et pietas intelpellat ; Vobis 
domino Priori ceteris obedienciariis Prioratus vestri predicti, 
quorum interest in hac parte in virtute sancte obediencie 
firmiter injungendo mandamus, quatinus confratribus ves- 
tris debilibus et infirmis, ipsorum infirmitate durante, in 
esculentis et poculentis eorum infirmitatibus congruentibus, 
necnon in medicinis et aliis juxta infirmitatis hujusmodi 
qualitatem et Prioratus facultates, de bonis vestris com- 
munibus et sicut antiquitus fieri consueverat de cetero 
faciatis debite procurari, sub pena suspensionis ab officiis 
vestris si circa premissa necgligentes fueritis vel remissi, 
ipso facto, quousq; id quod necgligenter omissum fuerit 


perfeceritis, incurrenda ; prout in constit. domini Ottoboni 
plenius continetur ; statuentes preterea quod camere 
infirmaria vestra, cum opus fuerit, infirmis canonicis 
sint communes, ne, quod absit, aliquis sibi retineat in 
eisdem vel vendicet proprietatem, contra sancti Augus- 
tini regulam et constit. sanctorum patrum editas in hac 

No. XXII. Item cum necgligencia sive remissio in 
personis precedencium sit plurimum detestanda, facilitas 
quoq; venie incentivum prebeat delinquendi ; Vobis 
domino Priori, Suppriori, aliisq; conventus predicti pre- 
sidentibus quibuscumq; presentibus et futuris, in virtute 
sancte obediencie firmiter injungendo mandamus, Quatinus, 
cum correctiones in personis ipsius conventus imineant 
faciende, ipsas, prout ad vos pertinet, absq; acceptione 
qualibet personarum juxta quantitatem delictorum et per- 
sonarum qualitatem vestrasq; observancias regulares cum 
maturitate debita, et discretione previa, facere studeatis ; 
alioquin vos suppriorem ceterosq; president espredictos, si 
necgligentes vel remissi aut culpabiles fueritis in premissis, 
canonica nostra monicione premissa penam suspencionis ab 
officiis vestris extunc incurrere volumus ipso facto, donee 
hujusmodi negligenciam, remissionem, culpam, vel de- 
sidiam a vobis excusseritis in hac parte ; pena prefato 
domino Priori in hoc casu, ut convenit, infligenda nobis 
specialiter reservata. 

No. XXIII. Item cum consuetudines laudabiles Prioratus 
cujuscumq; ordinacionesque ac statuta que usus longevi 
temporis approbavit merito sint servandae ; Vobis domino 
Priori ac singulis officiariis Prioratus vestri predicti pre- 
sentibus et futuris in virtute sancte obediencie, et sub penis 
infra scriptis, firmiter injungendo mandamus ; Quatinus 
pitancias et alias distribuciones quascunque, in quibus- 
cunque rebus consistant et quocunque nomine censeantur, 
in obitibus, anniversariis festivitatibus, aut aliis diebus, 
conventui, aut ab uno officio alii officio ex ordinacione 
antiqua debitas et consuetas, in canonicum aliquod non 
obsistat a modo faciatis persolvi, sub pena porcionis duple, 
cujus partem unam conventui predicto, alteram vero par- 


tern certis ptis usibus nostro arbitrio limitandis debite 
persolvendam specialiter reservamus. 

No. XXIV. Item cum vendiciones boscorum, firme 
maneriorum vel eciam ecclesiarum, aut alia domus vestre 
ardua negocia imineant facienda, ilia, sine tractatu ac 
deliberacione provida cum conventu predicto ac eorum 
consensu expresso vel majoris et sanioris partis ejusdem, 
de cetero fiere prohibemus ; aliter autem hujusmodi negocia 
ardua facta nullius existunt firmitatis ; et nichilominus 
Priorem aliosque officiarios quoscumq; qui contra pre- 
sentem prohibitionem nostram quicquam attemptaverint in 
premissis, penam suspensionis ab officiis eorundem ipso facto 
se noverint incursuros, cum ex hujusmodi factis privatis 
ecclesiis dispendia multociens provenerunt ; ilia quoque que 
omnes tangunt ab omnibus merito debeant approbari. 

No. XXV. Item volumus ac eciam ordinamus, quod 
sigillum vestrum commune sub quinque clavibus ad minus 
de cetero custodiatur ; quarum unam penes Priorem, 
secundam penes suppriorem, terciam penes precentorem, 
et reliquas duas claves penes confratres alios per conven- 
tum ad hoc nominandos decrevimus remanere, per ipsos 
fideliter custodiendas ; inhibentes preterea sub pena excom. 
majoris ne quicquam cum dicto sigillo communi a modo 
sigelletur, nisi litera hujusmodi sigellanda primitus legatur, 
inspiciatur, et eciam intelligatur a majore et saniore parte 
tocius conventus, et ad ipsam sigillandam communis vester 
prebeatur consensus, cum ex facto hujusmodi plura possunt 
dispendia verisimiliter provenire ; ad hoc vobis omnibus et 
singulis tenore presencium inhibemus, ne compatres alicujus 
pueri de cetero fieri presumatis, nostra super hoc licencia 
non obtenta, cum ex hujusmodi cognacionibus religiosis 
domibus dispendia sepius invenire noscuntur ; contrarium 
vero facientes, preter disciplinas alias regulares, singulis 
sextis feriis per mensem proxime tune sequentem in pane 
et aqua jejunando precipimus castigari. 

No. XXVI. Item quia nonnulli canonici domus vestre 
predicte, freno abjecto observancie regularis, caligis de 
Burneto et sotularium basp. in ocrearum loco ad modum 
sotularium uti publice non verentur, contra consuetudinem 


antiquam laudabilem ordinis supradicti, in perniciosum ex- 
emplum et scandalum plurimorum ; nos igitur honestatem 
dicti ordinis observare volentes, Vobis domino Priori in 
virtute sancte obediencie firmiter injungendo mandamus, 
Quatinus quoscumq; vestros canonicos et confratres ad 
utendun de cetero ocreis seu botis secundum antiquas 
vestri ordinis observancias regulares per quascumq; cen- 
suras ecclesiasticas, et, si opus fuerit, per incarceracionis 
penam canonice compellatis, sub pena suspensionis ab 
officio vestro predicto. 

No. XXVII. Item quia tres vel due partes conventus 
domus vestre non comedunt cotidie in refectorio, prout 
constitutiones sanctorum patrum sanxerunt provide in hac 
parte ; Vobis dicti Prioratus conventui firmiter injungendo 
mandamus, Quatinus tres vel saltern due partes vestrum 
cotidie in refectorio hora prandii de cetero comedant et 
remaneant debite, sicut decet ; vobis arcius injungentes, 
quod nullus vestrum in mansiunculis aut locis aliis privatis 
eciam cum hospitibus suis regularibus vel secularibus vel 
confratibus suis comedat ; hostilaria cum hospitibus, re- 
fectorio in communi misericordia, causa recreacionis, et 
aula Prioris dumtaxat exceptis ; hanc tamen Prior apponat 
providenciam diligentem, ut, sine personarum accepcione, 
nunc hos nunc illos ad refectionem convocet, quos magis 
noverit indigere ; super execucione vero debita premissorum 
Priorem ac alios conventui presidentes sub pena suspensionis 
ab eorum officiis arctius oneramus. 

XXVIII. Item, cum secundum sanctorum patrum con- 
stituciones, juniores canonici a suis prelatis vivendi normam 
habeant assumere, ac iidem prelati super sua conversacione 
testium copiam debeant obtinere ; Vobis domino Priori in 
virtute obedientie districte precipiendo mandamus, Qua- 
tinus capellanum vestrum canonicum singulis de cetero 
mutetis annis, juxta constitutiones sanctorum patrum 
editas in hac parte ; ut sic, qui vobiscum fuerint in officio 
predicto, per doctrine laudabilis exercicium plus valeant in 
religione proficere, ac eos innocencie testes, si vobis, quod 
absit, crimen aliquod seu scandalum per aliquorum invidiam 
imponatur, prompte poteritis invocare. 


No. XXIX: Item, cum communis exquisitus ornatus 
presertim in religiosis personis a jure sit penitus interdictus; 
Vobis tenore presencium inhibemus, ne quivis vestram de 
cetero in suis vestibus furruris preciosis aut manicis nodu- 
latis zonisve sericis auri vel argenti ornatum habentibus 
utatur de cetero quovis modo, cum abusus hujusmodi ad 
pompam et ostentacionem ac scandalum ordinis manifeste 
tendere dinoscatur. 

No. XXX. Item, quia singula officia sunt singulis com- 
mittenda personis ; Vobis in virtute obediencie et sub 
excom. sententie pena fir miter injungendo mandamus, ut 
officia singula vestri Prioratus, que per canonicos officiarios 
gubernari solebant, per officiarios hujusmodi, per vos com- 
muniter vel divisim juxta Prioratus predicti morem solitum 
eligendos, quibus ipsa officia, ut olim, committi volumus 
exercenda, singulariter de cetero gubernentur. 

XXXI. Item, cum plus timeri soleat id quod specialiter 
injungitur quam quod generaliter imperatur ; Vobis omni- 
bus et singulis inhibemus, ne aliquis vestrum, ad curam 
animarum non admissus, clericis aut laicis sacramentum 
unctionis extreme vel euchauristia ministrare, matrimonia- 
ve solempnizare, non habita super hiis parochialis presbyteri 
licencia, quomodolibet presumatis, sub pena excom. majoris 
sententie in hac parte a canone fulminate. 

XXXII. Item quia comperimus in nostris visitacionibus 
supradictis vasa et pallas altaris, necnon et vestimenta sacra 
ecclesie vestre, atque corporalia, tarn immunda relinqui, 
quod interdum aliquibus sunt horrori ; ut igitur honor 
debitus divinis impendatur ; Vobis firmiter injungendo 
mandamus, Quatinus vasa, corporalia, pallas, et vestimenta 
predicta, ac cetera ecclesie ornamenta munda nitida et 
honesta decetero conserventur hoc quoq; insuper injun- 
gentes, ut in ecclesia vestra celebrantibus vinum bonum, 
purum, et incorruptum ad sacramentum altaris conficien- 
dum per eum qui super hoc gerit officium, et non corruptum, 
et acetosum, prout fieri consueverit, imposterum minis- 
tretur ; nimis enim videtur absurdum in sacris sordes 
necgligere, que dedecerent in prophanis. 

XXXIII. Item licet sanctorum reliquias, vasa, aut vesti- 


menta sacra seu libros ecclesie in vadem dari, aut pignori 
obligari canonica prohibeant instituta, a vobis tamen in 
dictis visitacionibus comperimus contrarium esse factum ; 
Vobis igitur domino Priori, tenore presencium, fin-niter 
injungendo mandamus, quatinus ab hujusmodi impignora- 
cionibus extra casus a jure permissos vos decetero penitus 
abstinentes, hujusmodi pignori obligata curetis recolligere, 
et ea ecclesie vestre restituere, absq; more dispendio, sicut 
decet ; statuentes preterea ut omnes carte ac munimenta 
quecumq; statum bona et possessiones domus vestre quali- 
tercumq; contingentes, sub tribus serruris et clavibus 
remaneant, futuris temporibus fideliter conservande. 

XXXIV. Item cum religiosi de bono in melius continue 
debeant proficisci, ac ex sacre scripture lectione et inspec- 
tione qualiter id faciant plenius instrui valeant ; Vobis 
firmiter injungendo mandamus, ut, completis hiis, que ad 
vestri ordinis et regularis discipline observanciam pertinent 
atq; spectant, in claustro sedentes scripture sacre lectioni 
sancteq; contemplacioni devocius insistatis, sicq secundum 
regule vestre exigenciam taliter codices inspiciendos re- 
quiratis, ut in eis quid fugiendum quid subsequendum ac 
cujusmodi premium inde consequendum fuerit agnoscere 

XXXV. Item vobis Domino Priori injungimus, quod 
cum parentes vel consanguine! alicujus confratis vestri ad 
eum accesserint, causa visitandi eundem, liberaliter secun- 
dum statum sui exigentiam per vos vel ilium qui super hoc 
ministrandi gerit officium infra Prioratum honeste et debite 
procurentur ; sed videant fratres ne nimis sint in talibus 
Prioratui onerosi. 

XXXVI. Item quia parum est jura condere nisi execu- 
tioni debita demandentur, ea quoque solent labili memorie 
eo tenacius commendari quo veraciter audientium auribus 
fuerint sepius inculcata ; et, ne vestrum quis piam igno- 
rantiam pretendere valeat premissorum ; Vobis firmiter 
injungendo mandamus, quatinus has nostras injunctiones 
et decreta pariter supradicta in aliquo volumine competenti 
absque more dispendio conscribi plenius faciatis, eaque 
omnia et singula bis annis singulis de cetero coram toto 


conventu plenius recitari ; vos nichilominus omnes et 
singulos monemus primo secundo et tercio peremptorie, 
vobis insuper in virtute obediencie arctius injungentes, 
quatinus ipsas injunctiones nostras et decreta predicta 
omnia et singula prout ad vos et vestrum quemlibet 
pertinent et singulariter vos concernunt, teneatis de cetero 
ac eciam observetis, sub penis et censuris ecclesiasticis 
supradictis, et aliis penis canonicis in contravenientes quos- 
cumque, prout contumacia delinquencium exegerit, per nos 
imposterum canonice infligendis. Potestatem autem pre- 
missa corrigendi, mutandi in toto vel in parte, interpretandi, 
declarandi et eisdem addendi, et eciam detrahendi, ac penas 
adjiciendi, suspendendi, necnon super compertis aliis in 
visitatione nostra predicta procedendi, criminaque et defec- 
tus ac excessus in ipsa comperta et delata corrigendi, ac 
canonice puniendi, et super ipsis novas injunctiones insuper 
faciendas, sicut et prout opus fuerit et nobis videbitur 
expedire, nobis eciam specialiter reservamus. In quorum 
omnium testimonium sigillum nostrum fecimus hiis apponi. 
Dat. apud Wynton vicesimo septimo die mensis Septem- 
bris anno Domini millesimo ccc octogesimo septimo et 
nostre consecrationis anno vicesimo. 
( L.S. ) 


(No. 50) 

INDENTURA PRIORIS de SELBORNE quorundam tradit. Petro 

Barnes sacristae ibidem ann. Hen. 6. una cum confiss. 

ejusdem Petri script. 

HEC indentura facta die lune proxime post ffestum nata- 
lium Dni anno regis Henrici sexti post conquestum anglie 

v. inter frratrem Johannem Stepe priorem ecclesie 

beate Marie de Selborne & Petrum Bernes sacrist, ibidem 
videlicet quod predictus prior deliveravit prefato Petro 


omnia subscripta In primis xxn amit xxxi aubes vid. v. 
sine parura pro quadragesima xxu manicul. Item xxn 
stole Item vm casule vid. in albe pro quadragesima. 
Item xi dalmatic, vid. i debit. Item xvi cape vid. mi 
veteres. Item unam amittam i albam cum paruris unum 
manipulum i stolam i casulam et duas dalmaticas de dono 
Johannis Combe capellani de Cicestria pro diebus princi- 
palibus. Item i amittam i aubam cum paruris i manu- 
pulum i stolam i casulam de dono ffratris Thome Halybone 
canonicis. Item i amittam i aubam cum paruris i manu- 
pulum i stolam i casulam pertinentem ad altare sancte 
Catherine virginis pro priore. Item i amittam n aubas 
cum paruris n manipul n stolas et n casulas pertinentes ad 
altare sancti Petri de dono patris Ricardi holte. Item de 
dono ejusdem n tuella vid. i cum fruictello et i canvas pro 
eodem altare. Item i tuellum pendentem ad terram pro 
quadragesima. Item vi tuell. cum ffruictibus xv tuell. sine 
ffruictell. Item mi tuell. pro lavatore. Item v corporas. 
Item n ffruictell pro sum mo altare sine tuellis. Item 11 
coopertor pro le ceste. Item n pallias de serico debili. 
Item i velum pro quadrigesima. Item i tapetum viridi 
coloris pro summo altare n ridell cum mi ridellis parvis 
pertinent, ad diet, altare. Item vn offretor vid. v debit. Item 
mi vexilla. Item mi pelves m quessones vid. i de serico. 
Item n super altaria. Item quinq ; calices vid. mi de auro 
Item n cruettes de argento de dono dni Johannis Combe 
capellani de Cicestre. Item vm cruettes de peuter. Item i 
coupam argent, et deaur. Item n osculator argent. Item i 
osculatorium cum osse digiti auricularis S u Johannis Baptiste. 
Item i crux argent, et deaur. non radicat. Item turribulum 
argent, et deaur. Item i anulum cum saphiro. Item i 
aliud anulum politum aureum. Item i anulum argent, et 
deauratum S u Edmundi. Item i concha cum pereo infixo. 
Item i cistam argent, et deaur. Item i imaginem beate 
Marie argent, et deaurat. Item i parvam crucem 
cum v reliquiis. Item i junctorium S d Ricardi. Item i 
tecam pro reliquiis imponend. Item i calefactor. S" Ricardi. 
Item mi candelabra vid. n. de stagno et n de ferro. Item i 
pecten S" Ricardi. Item n viell de cristall in parte fract. 


Item i pelvim de coper ad lavator. Item n osculat. de 
coper. Item i parvum turribulum de latyn. Item i vas 
de coper pro frank et sence consecrand. Item i pixidem de 
juery pro corpore Christi. Item n vasa de plumbo pro oleo 
conservando. Item i patellam eneam ferro ligat. Item i 
tripodem ferr. Item i costrell contin. n lagen et i potrell. 
Item ii babyngyres. Item n botelles de corio vid. i de 
quarte et i de pynte. Item in. anul. arg. et i pixidem 
S te Marie de Waddon. Item ( ) Instrumenta pro 

Sandyng. Item i ledbnyff. Item i shasshobe. Item i 
securim. Item n scabell. de ferro pro cancell. Item i plane. 
Item i cistam sine cerura. Item xim sonas. Item xix 
taperes ponder, xmtb et dimid. Item n torches ponder, 
xxib. Item xiilb cere et dimid. Item de candelis de cera 
ponder, vilb. Item lib de frank et sence. Item i lagenam 
olei. Item ix pondera de plumbo. 

(Vide de stauro in tergo) et in tergo scribuntur 
haec, "n vacce i sus mi hoggett et mi porcell " 


(N. 381) 

A Paper conteyning the value of the Manors and Lands 
pertayning to the Priorie of Selborne. iv. Edw. 3. With 
a note of charges yssuing out of it 


SUMMA totalis valoris maneriorum terrarum tenementorum et premisso- 
rum ejusdem Prioratus in ffesto S t! . Michaelis Archang. anno secundo 
Regis Edvardi 4". ut patet Rotul. de valoribus liberat. 

mi vi li. (i.e. LXXXVI li.) x s. vi d. 

Inde in redditibus resolutis domino pape domino Archiepiscopo et in 
diversis ffeodis certis personis concessis ac aliis annualibus reprisis in 
eisdem Rotul. de valoribus annotatis per annum xim li. xix s. v d. 

Et remanet de claro valore LXXI li. x s. vm d. 


Quatuor canonicis et quatuor ffamulis deo et ecclesie ibid, ser- 
vientibus pro eorum vadiis vestur. et diet, ut patet per bill inde 
fact, per annum xxx li. 

Diversis creditoribus pro eorum debitis persolvendis ut patet 
per parcell inde fact, xv li. xv s. mi d. 

Reparacionibus Ecclesiarum domorum murorum et clausurarum 
ejusdem Prioratus per annum xv li. xv s. mi d. 

Annua pencione Domini Prioris ei assignata per annum quous- 
ue remanet x li. 

g M 
B J 

c 'H 



Modo sequitur de Reformation* premissorum 

Summa total, valorum. ibid, misis et 
desperatis inde deductis prout patet per 
declaracionem Dni Petri Prioris de Sele- 
borne ad man. Dni nostri Wynton apud 
Palacium suum de Wolsley presentat. per 
ipsum ultimo die ffebr. Ann. Domini 
MCCCCLXII. et penes ipsum remanet. 

LXXI li. x s. via d. 
unde per ipsum Dnum 
nostrum Wynton assig- 
nantur in fforma se- 
quente videlicet 

/ Pro quatuor canonicis et quatuor fFa-^ 
mulis deo et ecclesie ibid, servientibus I xx jj 
pro eorum Diet, vadiis et vestur. ut patet | 
per bill inde fact. J 

Pro annua pencione Prioris quousque) ,. 
remanet. / 

(xv li. xv s. mi d. 


Pro diversis creditoribus pro eorum I per n annos ad xxxi 
debitis persolvendis ut patet per bill] H- x s. via <L ultra 

tuo < 

'% 3 

inde fact. 

LV li. xaii d. de ven- 
^dit. stauri. 


^"xv. li xv. s. mi d. 

per n annos ad xxxi 

li. x s. vni d. Sum- 

Pro diversis reparacionibus ecclesiarum 

ma total, valoris pro 

domorum murorum 

et clausurarum 


debitis et raparacioni- 

patet per bill. 

bus assignat. cum LV 

li. xiin d. de vendit 

Stauri ut supra cxvin 


.li. ii s. vi. d. 


Debita que debentur ibid, per diversos tenentes et ffirmarios ad festum 
S". Michaelis anno tertio Regis Edvardi 4.". videlicet 

Abbas de Derford de ffeod. ffirme sua ad ix li. vi s.l ,. , 

vm d. per annum a retro jxxh.vns.xid. 

Thomas Perkyns armig. ffirmarius Rectorie del 
Estworlam pro uno anno finiente ad ffestum S ri . VLX s. 
Mich, anno n. Regis Edvardi 4". 

Johannes Shalmere ball de Selborne debet LXXV s. 

Ricardus Cawry debet de eodem anno vi s. 

Summa xxvn li. vm s. xi d. 

Thomas Perkyns armig. debet de ffirme sua pre-1 
dicta ad festum S ti . Mich. ann. vn et ultra feod. }-vii li. vi s. vm d. 
suum ad xx s. per annum 

Thomas lusher debet pro ffirme sua ad XL s. perl 
annum cum feod. suis ad xx s. per annum. 

Hugo Pakenham debet de reddit. suo ad xx s. ) 
per ann. j 

Abbas de Derford debet de ffeod ffirme sua ultra 1 
xx li. vu. s. xi d. ut supra pro annis in. mi. et v. Vxxvm li. 
Regis Edvardi 

Walterus Berlond ffirmarius de Shene debet ix li. vs. n d. 

Henr. Shafter ffirmarius ffeod de Basynstoke xil li. mi d. 

Henr. lode nuper ffirmarius manerii de Chede debet xx li. 
Total. LXXXXIV li. xil d. 

Summa LXVI li. xil s. vi d. 



Extracted from the Papers of the Late Rev. Gilbert White, 

M.A., of Selborne, Hampshire, Senior Fellow of 

Oriel College, Oxford. 


THE REV. MR. WHITE so agreeably known to the 
public by his Natural History of Selborne, left behind him 
a series of yearly books, containing his diurnal observations 
on the occurrences in the various walks of rural nature, 
from the year 1768 to the time of his death in 1793. 
From these annals he had already extracted all the matter 
comprised in the work above mentioned, down to the 
middle of 1787 ; but several curious facts in the preceding 
numbers had not been thus employed ; and all the subse- 
quent ones remained untouched. It was thought a mark 
of respect due to his memory, and to the reputation he 
had acquired as a faithful and elegant observer, not to 
consign these relics to neglect. The manuscripts were 
accordingly put into my hands for the purpose of selecting 
from them what might seem worthy of laying before the 
public. The present small publication is the fruit of my 
research. With no small pains I collected the materials of 
it, dispersed through the records of so many years, and 
gave them such an arrangement as I thought would present 
them in the most agreeable and useful manner to the lovers 
of natural knowledge. 


London, Jan. i, 1795. 



THE mode in which the following rural calendar of the 
year has been composed, was to copy out from the journals 
all the circumstances thought worthy of noting, with the 
several dates of their recurrence, and to preserve the earliest 
and latest of these dates, so that the calendar exhibits the 
extreme range of variation in the first occurrence of all the 
phenomena mentioned. To many of them only one date 
is annexed, only one observation having been entered. 
This is particularly the case with respect to the flowering of 
plants, with which the book of 1768 alone was copiously 
filled, and it is to be noted that this was rather a back- 
ward year. 

Of the abbreviations used,y7. signifies flowering ; /. leafing ; 
and ap. the first appearance. 



Jan. i -i 2 Redbreast whistles, 

i -i 8 Larks congregate. 

1-14 Nuthatch chatters. 

1. Feb. 1 8 Winter aconite fl. 

2 Shelless snail or slug ap. 
2-1 i Grey and white wagtail ap. 
2-14 Missel thrush sings. 

2. Feb. 14 Helleborus foetidus (bearsfoot) fl. 
2. April 12 Polyanthus fl. 

2. Feb. i Double daisy fl. 

3. Feb. 1 6 Mezereon fl. 

3 Viola tricolor (pansie) fl. 

3-21 Lamium rubrum (red dead-nettle) fl. 

3-15 Senecio vulg. (groundsel) fl. 

3. Feb. 28 Hazel calkins open. 

4. Feb. 1 8 Hepatica fl. 

5-12 Hedge sparrow whistles. 

5. Feb. 3 Flies in windows. 

6. Feb. 6. Large titmouse makes its spring note. 
6-22 Song thrush or throstle sings. 

6 Insects swarm under sunny hedges. 

6. April 7 Primula vulga. (primrose) fl. 

6. Mar. 19 Bees come out of their hives. 

6. Feb. 3 Gnats play about. 

6-1 1 Hen chaffinches flock. 

8. Feb. i Ulex europ. (gorse) fl. 

8. April i Cheiranthus cheiri (wall-flower) fl. 

8-12 Stocks fl. 

9 Emberiza alba (bunting) in great flocks. 


Jan. 9 Linnets congregate in vast flocks. 

9-11 Lambs begin to fall. 

10. Feb. ii Rooks resort to their nest trees. 
10 Helleborus niger fl. 

10. Feb. 5 Galanthus nivalis (snow-drop) fl. 
13 Lamium alb. (white dead nettle) fl. 

13 Trumpet honey-suckle fl. 

13 Ranunculus repens (creeping crow- 

foot) fl. 

14 House-sparrows chirp. 

1 6. Mar. n Leontodon taraxacum (dandelion) fl. 

1 6. Mar. 24 Bat ap. 

1 6 Spiders shoot their webs. 

1 6 Butterfly ap. 

1 6 Brambling ap. 

17 Black-bird whistles. 
17 Wren sings 

1 8. Feb. 8 Earth-worms lie out 

13. Mar. 1 8 Crocuses fl. 

2 1 Sky-lark sings. 

22 Ivy casts its leaves. 
22-24 Helleborus hiemalis fl. 

23 Scarabaeus stercorarius (common dor 

or clock) ap. 

23 Peziza acetabulum ap. 

23. Mar. 5 Helleborus virid. fl. 

23. Feb. i Hazel show their female blossoms. 

24. Feb. 21 Woodlark sings. 

24. Feb. 1 5 Chaffinch sings. 

25. Mar. 4 Jack-daws begin to come to churches. 
25. April 14 Yellow wagtail ap. 

25 Lonicera periclymenum (honey- 

suckle) 1. 

27. Mar. 15 Veronica agrestis fl. 

27. April 2 Papilio urticae (small tortoise-shell 

butterfly) ap. 
28 White wagtail sings. 

28. Feb, 24 Shell-snails ap. 

30 Earth-worms engender. 


Feb. i. Mar. 26 Fragaria sterilis (barren strawberry) fl. 

1 Parus caeruleus (tomtit) makes its 

spring note. 

2 Brown wood-owls hoot. 

3 Hens sit. 

3 Marsh titmouse begins his two harsh 
sharp notes. 

4. April i Gossamer floats. 

4. April 8 Musca tenax ap. 

5 Laurustinus fl. 

5 Ruscus aculeatus (butcher's broom) fl. 

7 Foxes smell rank. 

10 Turkey-cocks strut and gobble. 

1 2 Yellow-hammer sings. 

13. April 2 Papilio rhamni (brimstone butter- 
fly) ap. 

13. Mar. 23 Green woodpecker laughs. 
14-17 Ravens build. 

14. Mar. 27 Taxus baccata (male yew tree) sheds 

its farina. 

15. Mar. 23 Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot) fl. 

1 6. Mar. 6 Rooks build. 

1 7 Partridges pair. 

17. Mar. 8 Pease sown. 

1 8 House pigeons build. 

20. Mar. 30 Field crickets open their holes. 
21-26 Pulex irritans (common flea) ap. 

2 1 . April 1 3 Ficaria verna (pilewort) fl. 

21. April 5 Goldfinch sings. 

22. Mar. 26 Coluber berus (viper) ap. 

23. April i Oniscus asellus (wood-louse) ap. 

24 Missel thrushes pair. 

24. April 7 Narcissus pseudonarcissus (daffodil) fl. 
24. April 2 Willow fl. 

25 Frogs croak. 

26. Mar. 31 Viola odorata (sweet violet) fl. 

26 Phalaena tinea vestianella ap. 

27. April 24 Oedicnemus charadrius (stone curlew) 



Feb. 27 Filbert fl. 

27. April 5 Ring-dove cooes. 

Apricot-tree fl. 

28. Mar. 24 Toad ap. 

28. Mar. 22 Frogs spawn. 

Mar. i. April 2 Veronica hederifol. fl. 

2. April 17 Peach tree fl. 

2. April 6 Rana temporar. (frog) ap. 

3 Thlaspi bursa past.(shepherd's purse) fl. 
3-29 Pheasant crows. 

4. May 8 Land tortoise comes forth. 

4. April 1 6 Pulmonaria officin. (lungwort) fl. 

4 Podula fimetaria ap. 

4 Aranea scenica saliens ap. 
5-16 Scolopendra forficata ap. 

5. April 25 Wryneck returns. 

5 Goose lays. 

5 Duck lays. 

6. April 1 8 Viola canina (dog violet) fl. 

6 Papilio io (peacock butterfly) ap. 
7-14 Trouts begin to rise. 

8 Beans planted. 

8 Blood-worms appear in the water, 

io Crows build. 

10-18 Oats sown. 

12. April 30 Golden-crested wren sings. 

12 Aspen fl. 

13-20 Sambucus nigra (common elder) 1. 

15. May 21 Laurel fl. 

1 5 Chrysomela Getting, ap. 
15. April 22 Black ants ap. 

1 6 Ephemerae bisetae ap. 

17. April ii Ribes grossularia (gooseberry) 1. 

17. May 19 Stellaria holostea (stitchwort) fl. 

17. April 22 Anemone nemorosa (wood anemone) fl. 

17 Blackbird sits. 
17 Raven sits. 

1 8-30 Wheatear returns. 

1 8. April 13 Adoxa moschatellina fl. 


Mar. 19. April 13 Small uncrested wren ap. 

19 Fumaria bulbosa fl. 

19. April 4 Ulmus campestris (elm) fl. 

19. April 7 Turkey lays. 

20 House pigeons sit. 

20. April 14 Caltha palustris (marsh marigold) fl. 

21. April 28 Bombylius medius ap. 

21. April 12 Sand-martin ap. 

22-30 Coluber natrix (snake) ap. 

22. April 1 8 Formica herculeana (horse ant) ap. 

22. April 22 Greenfinch sings. 

23. April 14 Ivy berries ripe. 

25 Vinca minor (periwinkle) fl. 

25. April i Daphne laureola (spurge laurel) fl. 

26. April 20 Swallows ap. 

26. May 4 Black-cap whistles. 
27 Ducks hatched. 

27. April 9 Chrysosplenium oppositifol. fl. 

28. May i House martin ap. 

28. April 13 Chimney swallow ap. 

29. April 22 Double hyacinth blows. 
29 Young goslings. 

30. April 22 Oxalis acetosella (wood sorrel) fl. 

30. April 1 7 Ring ouzel ap. 

31. April 30 Barley sown. 
April i. May i Nightingale sings. 

i . May 4 Fraxinus excels, (ash) fl. 

1 Spiders' webs on the surface of the 

2-24 Fritillaria meleagris fl. 

2 Julus terrestr. ap. 

3-24 Primula veris (cowslip) fl. 

3-15 Glecoma hederacea (ground-ivy) fl. 

3 Snipe pipes. 

3 Buxus (box-tree) fl. 

3 Ulmus campest. (elm) 1. 

3-14 Gooseberry fl. 

3-5 Currant fl. 

3. May 21 Pear-tree fl. 


April 4 Lacerta vulg. (newt or eft) ap. 

5-1 9 Mercurialis perenn. (dog's mercury) fl. 

5 Ulmus glabra fl. 

6-20 Cardamine pratensis (ladies-smock) fl. 

7-26 Cuckoo heard. 

7. May 10 Prunus spinosa (black-thorn) fl. 

7 Termes pulsatorius beats. 

7 Gudgeon spawns. 

8-28 Ruticilla (red-start) ap. 

8-24 Fritillaria imper. (crown imperial) fl. 

9-19 Tit-lark sings. 

10. May 8 Fagus sylv. (beech-tree) 1. 

1 1 . May 9 Shell-snails come out in troops. 
1 1 Middle yellow wren ap. 

13. May 7 Swift ap. 

14. May 17 Conops calcitrans (stinging-fly) ap. 
14 Draba verna (whitlow grass) fl. 

14 Larch 1. 

14. May 14 Whitethroat ap. 

14 Red-ant ap. 

14 Gryllus gryllotalpa (mole cricket) 


14-19-23 Second willow or laughing wren ap. 

15-19 Pedicularis sylv. (red rattle) fl. 

1 5 Musca carnaria (common flesh-fly) ap. 

1 6 Coccinella bipunctata (lady cow) ap. 
16-30 Alauda locustae vocae (grasshopper- 
lark) ap. 

17. May 7 Large shivering willow wren ap. 
17-27 Middle willow wren (regulus non 

cristatus medius) ap. 

1 8. May 12 Prunus cerasus (wild cherry) fi. 
1 8. May 1 1 Garden cherry fl. 

1 8. May 5 Prunus domest. (plum) fl. 

19-25 Hyacinthus non-scriptus (harebell) fl. 

20-17 Turtle cooes. 

20. June 1 1 Crataegus oxyacanthus (hawthorn or 

May) fl. 

21 Orchis mascula fl. 



April 21. May 23 


22. May 25 
22. June ii 



24. May 28 


28. May 20 

30. May 21 
30. June 6 
May i 

i . June 1 1 







4. June 17 



10. June 9 






18. June n 

Musca vomitoria (blue flesh fly) ap. 

Black snails abound. 

Apple-trees fl. 

Large bat ap. 

Fragaria vesca (strawberry) fl. 

Erysimum alliaria (sauce alone) fl. 

Prunus avium (bird cherry) fl. 

Apis hypnorum ap. 

Musca meridiana ap. 

Asilus (wolf-fly) ap. 

Papilio brassicae (great white cabbage 
butter-fly) ap. 

Libellulae (dragon-flies) ap. 

Acer majus (sycamore) fl. 

Bombylius minor ap. 

Glow-worm shines. 

Caprimulgus (fern-owl or goatsucker) 

Ajuga reptans (bugle) fl. 

Gryllus campest. (field crickets) crink. 

Scarabaeus melolontha (May chaffer) ap. 

Lonicera periclymen. (honeysuckle) fl. 

Lathraea squammaria (toothwort) fl. 

Shell-snails copulate. 

Small reed sparrow sings. 

Viburnum lantana (mealy tree) fl. 

Stoparola (flycatcher) ap. 

Apis longicornis ap. 

Passer arund. minor (sedge bird) ap. 

Oak in male bloom. 

Papilio atalanta (admiral butter-fly) ap. 

Papilo cardamines (orange-tip butter- 
fly) ap. 

Fagus sylvat. (beech) fl. 

Acer campest. (maple) fl. 

Berberis vulg. (barberry) fl. 

Papilio aegeria (wood Argus butter- 
fly) ap. 

Orange lily fl. 



May 1 8. June 13 

1 8. June 5 

1 8. June 9 

19. June 8 

20. June 15 

21. June 9 



21. June 20 


22. July 22 

2 3 

23. June 8 

24. June 1 1 
24. June 4 
24. June 7 



26. June 25 


June 9 


June 13 

27. June 13 



29. June i 

30. June 22 
30. June 20 
30. June 13 
30. June 21 

3 1 

Sphinx filipendulae (Burnet moth) ap. 

Juglans regia (walnut) 1. 

Cytisus laburnum fl. 

Hippobosca equina (forest-fly) ap. 

Hedysarum onobrychis (saintfoin) fl. 

Paeonia offic. (piony) fl. 

Aesculus hippocastanum (horse ches- 
nut) fl. 

Lilac fl. 

Aquilegia vulg. (columbine) fl. 

Mespilus german. (medlar) fl. 

Tormentilla reptans fl. 

Convallaria min. (lily of the valley) fl. 

Bees swarm. 

Asperula odorata (woodroofe) fl. 

Wasp (female) ap. 

Sorbus aucuparia (mountain ash) fl. 

Ophrys nidus avis (birds-nest orchis) fl. 

Crataegus aria (white-beam tree) fl. 

Polygala vulg. (milkwort) fl. 

Cistus helianthemum (sock rose) fl. 

Viburnum opulus (gelder rose) fl. 

Sambucus nigra (elder) fl. 

Cantharis noctiluca ap. 

Apis longicornis bores holes in walks. 

Morus nigra (mulberry) 1. 

Crataegus torminalis (wild service- 
tree) fl. 

Sanicula europaea fl. 

Geum urbanum (avens) fi. 

Orchis morio fl. 

Lychnis flos cuculi (cuckow flower) fl. 

Poterium sanguisorba (Burnet) fl. 

Digitalis purpur. (foxglove) fl. 

Corn-flag fl. 

Serapias longifol. fl. 

Rubus idaeus (raspberry) fl. 

Geranium Robertian. (herb Robert) fl. 

Scrophularia nodosa (figwort) fl. 


May 31 Lithospermum officin. (Cromwell) fl. 


Euphorbia amygdal. (wood spurge) fl. 
Allium ursinum (Ramsons) fl. 
Myosotis scorpioides (mouse-ear scor- 
pion grass) fl. 

-14 Grasshopper ap. 

-2 1 Rose fl. 

. July 1 6 Hieracium minor fl. 

Menyanthes trifoliata (buckbean) fl. 
2-8 Scarabaeus auratus (brass or green 

beetle) ap. 

2-23 Sheep shorn. 

2 Iris pseud-acorus (water-flag) fl. 

2 Secale cereale (rye) fl. 

2 Cynoglossum offic. (hound's tongue) fl. 

2. Aug. 6 Serapias latifolia fl. 
2 Musca caesar (green-gold fly) fl. 

2 Papilio moera (Argus butterfly) ap. 

3 Ranunculus flammula fl. 

3 Lotus cornicul. (birdsfoot trefoil) fl. 

3-11 Fraxinella fl. 

3 Phryganea nigra ap. 

3-14 Ephemera vulg. (angler's May-fly) ap. 

4 Anthyllis vulner. (ladies' fingers) fl. 
4. July 4 Ophrys apifera (bee-orchis) fl. 
5-19 Pinks fl. 

5 Philadelphus coronar. fl. 
5-20 Libellula virgo ap. 

7. July 30 Vitis vinifera (vine) fl. 

8. July i Portugal laurel fl. 
8-25 Purple martagon fl. 

8. Aug. i Geranium pratense (meadow cranes- 
bill) fl. 

8 Tamus communis (lady seal) fl. 

9 Field pea fl. 

9 Cucubalus behen (bladder campion) fl. 

9 Bryonia alba (bryony) fl. 

10 Stachys sylvat. fl. 

11 Solanum dulcamara (bittersweet) fl. 


June 12 Juglans reg. (walnut) fl. 

12. July 23 Phallus impudicus ap. 

12 Epilobium angustifol. (narrow-leaved 

willow-herb) fl. 

13. July 22 Triticum hybern. (wheat) fl. 

13 Symphytum offic. (comfrey) fl. 
13-30 Lysimachia nemorum fl. 

15. Aug. 24 Tremella nostoc ap. 

1 6 Rhamnus cathart. (buckthorn) fl. 

1 6 Cicada spumaria (cuckow-spit insect or 

frog-hopper) ap. 

17, 1 8 Rosa canina (dog-rose) fl. 

17. Sept. 3 Lycoperdon bovista (large puff-ball) ap. 

1 8 Verbascum thapsus (mullein) fl. 

19 Echium vulg. (viper's bugloss) fl. 

19. July 20 Meadow hay cut. 

19 Scarabaeus cervus ap. 

20 Borago officin. fl. 

20 Euonymus europaeus (spindle-tree) fl. 

20. July 4 Carduus nutans (musk thistle) fl. 

2 1 Cornus sanguin. (dogwood) fl. 
21 Scabiosa arv. (field scabious) fl. 
21-27 Carduus palustris (marsh thistle) fl. 
22. July 9 Spiraea filipendula (dropwort) fl. 
22. July 7 Valeriana officin. fl. 

22. July 4 Quails call. 

June 22 Epilobium montan. (mountain willow- 
herb) fl. 

23-29 Carduus crispus (thistle upon thistle) fl. 

23 Heracleum sphondyl. (cow-parsnep) fl. 

23 Bunium bulbocast. (earth-nut) fl. 

23. Aug. 2 Young frogs migrate. 

24 Oestrus curvicauda ap. 

24 Verbena officin. (vervain) fl. 

24 Papaver rhoeas (corn poppy) fl. 

24 Prunella vulg. (self-heal) fl. 
24-29 Agrimonia eupatoria (agrimony) fl. 

24. Aug. 2 Tabanus bovinus (great horse-fly) ap. 

25 Centaurea scabiosa (great knapweed) fl. 


June 26. Aug. 30 Agaricus campest. (mushroom) ap. 

26 Malva sylv. (common mallow) fl. 

26 Malva rotundifol. fl. 

2 6 Hy pericum perforat. (St. John's wort)fl. 

27. July 4 Orobanche major (broom-rape) fl. 

27 Hyoscyamus niger (henbane) fl. 

27 Tragopogon prate ns (goats-beard) fl. 
2 7 Atropa belladon. (deadly nightshade) fl. 

28. July 29 Truffles begin to be found. 
28. July 31 Young partridges fly. 

28. July 31 Tilia europ. (lime-tree) fl. 

28. July 12 Carduus lanceolat. (spear thistle) fl. 

28 Spiraea ulmaria (meadow sweet) fl. 
28 Genista tinctoria (dyers' broom) fl. 

28 Thymus serpyllum (wild thyme) fl. 

29. July 20 Stachys germanic. fl. 

29. July 4 Hemerocallis (day-lily) fl. 

29. July 30 Jasmine fl. 

29. Aug. 4 Hollyhock fl. 

29. July 23 Monotropa hypopithys fl. 

29 Galium verum (ladies' beds tr aw) fl. 
29 Galium palustre fl. 

29 Lapsana com. (nipplewort) fl. 

29 Carduus acanthoides (welted thistle) fl. 

30 Achillea ptarmica (sneezewort) fl. 
30 Malva moschata (musk mallow) fl. 
30 Anagallis arv. (pimpernel) fl. 

30. July 17 Scarabaeus solstit (hoary beetle) ap. 
July i Serratula arv. (common thistle) fl. 

1 Adonis ann. (pheasant's eye) fl. 

2 Euphrasia odontit. (red eyebright) fl. 
June 2 Bupleurum rotundifol. (thorough wax) fl 
July 2 Agrostemma githago (cockle) fl. 

2 Prenanthes muralis (ivy-leaf) fl. 

2 Matricaria parthenium (feverfew) fl. 

3 Sedum acre (stone crop) fl. 
3 Ligustrum vulg. (privet) fl. 

3 Antirrhinum linaria (toadflax) fl. 

4 Linum perenne (Siberian flax) fl. 


July 4-24 Vaccinium ulig. (whortle berries) ripe. 

5 Reseda lutea fl. 

5 Centaurea cyanus (blue bottle) fl. 
5-12 Carduus acaulis (dwarf carline thistle)fl . 

6 Typha latifol. (bulrush) fl. 

6 Lythrum salicaria (spiked willow- 
herb) fl. 

6 Verbascum niger (black mullein) fl. 

6 Chrysanthemum fl. 
6-9 Marigolds fl. 

7 Sherardia arv. (little field madder) fl. 
7 Melissa nepeta (field calamint) fl. 

7 Ballota nigra (henbit) fl. 
8-19 Betonica ofricin. (betony) fl. 

8 Campanula rotundifol. fl. 

8 Chenopodium bonus henricus (English 
mercury) fl. 

8 Daucus carota (wild carrot) fl. 
8-20 Paeolum maj. (Indian cress) fl. 

9 Nepeta cataria (cat-mint) fl. 

9 Melampyrum sylvat. (cow-wheat) fl. 

9 Valantia cruciata (crosswort) fl. 

9-27 Cranberries ripe 

10 Vicia cracca (tufted vetch) fl. 

10 Vicia sylvat. (wood vetch) fl. 

1 1 Campanula glomerata (little throat- 

wort) fl. 

11 Jasione montan. (hairy sheep's scabi- 

ous) fl. 

12 Pastinaca sylv. fl. 

12 Lilium alb. (white lily) fl. 

13 Conium maculat. (hemlock) fl. 
13 Caucalis anthriscus fl. 

13. Aug. ii Flying ants ap. 

1 3 Lysimachia nummularia (money wort)fl. 

14. Aug. 4 Scarlet martagon fl. 

14 Stellaria graminea fl. 

14 Aethusa cynapium (fool's parsley) fl. 

14-29 Sambucus ebulus (dwarf elder) fl. 


July 14. Aug. 29 Young martins and swallows begin to 

14 Potato fl. 

1 5 Angelica sylv. fl. 
15-25 Digitalis ferrugin. fl. 

1 5 Senecio jacobaea (ragwort) fl. 

1 5 Solidago virgaurea (golden rod) fl. 

1 6 Centaurea calcitrapa (star thistle) fl. 

1 6 Oenothera biennis fl. 
17. Aug. 14 Pease cut. 

17 Galega oflkin. fl. 
17. Aug. 21 Apricots ripe. 

17 Stachys palustr. fl. 

17 Epilobium ramos (branching willow- 

herb) fl. 

17. Aug. 7 Rye harvest begins. 

1 8. Aug. 15 Chlora perfol. (yellow centaury) fl. 

1 8 Lathyrus aphaca (yellow vetchling) fl. 
1 8 Circaea lutetiana (enchanter's night- 
shade) fl. 

1 8 Eupatorium cannabin. (water hemp 

agrimony) fl. 

1 9 Campanula latisol (giant throatwort) fl. 
19 Euphrasia officin. (eyebright) fl. 

19. Aug. 10 Humulus lupulus (hop) fl. 

19 Poultry moult. 

20 Cuscuta europ. (dodder) fl. 

20 Gentianum centaureum (lesser cen- 

taury) fl. 

20 Sium nodiflorum fl. 

2 1 Spergula arv. (spurrey) fl. 
2 1 Trifolium arv. fl. 

21 Polygonum fagopyr. (buckwheat) fl. 
21. Aug. 23 Wheat harvest begins. 

22 Sparganium erect, (great bur-reed) fl. 
2 2-3 1 Hyper, elodes (marsh St. John's wort) fl. 
22 Drosera rotundifolium (sundew) fl. 

22 Comarum palustr. (purple marsh cin- 

quefoil) fl. 


July 22 Wild cherries ripe. 

22 Anthericum ossifragum (Lancashire 

asphodel) fl. 

23 Scutellaria galericulat. (hooded willow- 

herb) fl. 
23 Oenanthe fistulos (water dropwort) fl. 

23 Marrubium vulg. (horehound) fl. 

24 Seseli caruifol. fl. 

24 Alisma plantago (water plantain) fl. 

25 Alopecurus myosuroides fl. 

25. Aug. 9 Clematis vitalba (virgin's bower) fl. 

25 Bees kill the drones. 

26 Dipsacus sylv. (teasel) fl. 

26 Origanum vulg. (wild marjoram) fl. 

27-29 Swifts begin to depart. 

28, 29 Dipsacus pilosus (small wild teasel) fl. 

28 Teucrium scorodonia (wood sage) fl. 

28 Lathyrus latifol. (everlasting pea) fl. 

29 Hypericum humifusum (trailing St. 

John's wort) fl. 

30 Veratrum album (white hellebore) fl. 
30 Anthemis nobil. (camomile) fl. 

30 Scabiosa columbaria fl. 

3 1 . Aug. 6 Helianthus multiflor. (sun-flower) fl. 

31 Lysimachia vulg. (yellow loosestrife) fl. 
31. Aug. 27 Swifts last seen. 

Aug. i -16 Oats cut. 

1-26 Barley cut. 

1 Scutellaria minor fl. 

2 Inula dysenterica (marsh fleabane) fl. 
2 Apis manicata ap. 

2 Papilio machaon ( swallow-tailed butter- 

fly) ap. 

3-19 Oestrus bovis (whame or burrel fly) 

lays eggs on horses. 

3 Sonchus arvens. (sow-thistle) fl. 

3 Papilio cinxia (plantain fritillary) ap. 

4 Picris hieracioides (yellow succory) fl. 
Musca mystacea ap. 


Aug. 5 Campanula trachelium (Canterbury 

bells) fl. 

5 Mentha longifol. fl. 

7 Carlina vulg. (carline thistle) fl. 

7 Rhus cotinus fl. 

7 Ptinus pectinicornis ap. 

8 Arctium lappa (burdock) fl. 

8. Sept. 3 Gentiana amarella (fell-wort) fl. 

8 Artemisia absinthium (wormwood) fl. 

8 Artemisia vulg. (mugwort) fl. 

10 Centaurea sols. (St. Barnaby's thistle) fl. 

10. Sept. 13 Colchicum autumn, (meadow saffron)fl. 

12. Sept. 27 Aster (Michaelmas daisy) fl. 

14 Thalictrum flavum (meadow rue) fl. 

14 Eryngium marit. (sea holly) fl. 

14. Sept. 28 China asters fl. 

14 Boletus albus ap. 

1 5 Campanula hybrida (less Venus look- 

ing glass) fl. 

1 5 Carthamus tinctor. fl 

1 5 Young broods of goldfinches ap. 

15. Sept. 12 Lapwings congregate. 

15 Papilio semele (black-eyed marble 

butterfly) ap. 

1 6 Birds reassume their spring notes. 

1 7 Scabiosa succisa (devil's bit) fl. 

17. Sept. 10 Thistle down floats. 

1 8 Conyza squarrosa (plowman's spiken- 

ard) fl. 

1 8 Leontodon autumn, (autumnal dande- 
lion) fl. 

1 8 Flies abound in windows. 

1 8. Nov. i Linnets congregate. 

20 Bulls make their shrill autumnal noise. 

22 Aster amellus fl. 

23 Impatiens balsamina (balsam) fl. 

24 Carduus marianus (milk thistle) fl. 
24. Sept. 17 Hop picking begins. 

24. Sept. 22 Beeches begin to be tinged with yellow. 


Aug. 25 Saponaria officin. (soapwort) fl. 

27. Sept. 12 Ophrys spiralis (ladies' traces) fl. 

29 Papilio phlaeas (small golden black- 

spotted butterfly) ap. 

29 Swallows sing. 

30. Sept. 2 Hibiscus syriacus fl. 

30 Papilio paphia (great fritillary) ap. 

3 1 Phalaena pacta (willow red under-wing 

moth) ap. 

Sept. i. Nov. 7 Stone curlews clamour. 

i Phalaena russula ap. 

4. Oct. 24 Grapes ripen. 

4. Nov. 9 Wood owls hoot. 

4 Papilio hyale (saffron butterfly) ap. 

4-30 Ring ouzel ap. on its autumnal visit. 

6-29 Stoparola (flycatcher) withdraws. 

1 1 Bean harvest begins. 

12. Oct. 2 Hedera helix (ivy) fl. 

12. Nov. i Stares congregate 

25 Wild honeysuckles fl. a second time. 

28. Oct. 24 Woodlark sings. 

29. Nov. 1 1 Woodcocks (scolopax rusticola) come. 
Oct. i Arbutus unedo fl. 

3. Nov. 9 Wheat sown. 

4. Nov. 5 Swallows last seen. (N.B. The house- 

martin the latest.) 
10. Nov. 10 Redwings come. 

12. Nov. 23 Fieldfares come. 
15-27 Gossamer fills the air. 
19 China hollyhock fl. 

20. Dec. 3 1 Hen chaffinches congregate. 

23. Dec. 27 Wood pigeons come. 

23. Nov. 29 Grey crows come. 

25. Nov. 20 Snipes come up into the meadows. 

27. Nov. 26 Tortoise begins to bury himself. 

3 1 . Dec. 2 5 Rooks visit their nest trees. 
Nov. i Bucks grunt 

10 Primrose fl. 

13, 14 Green whistling plover ap. 


Nov. 1 6 Helvella mitra ap. 

27 Greenfinches flock. 

30. Dec. 29 Hepatica fl. 

Dec. 4-2 1 Ulex europ. (gorse or furze) fl. 

7-16 Polyanthus fl. 

11-27 Lambs fall. 

12-23 Moles work in throwing up hillocks. 

14-30 Helleborus foetid, fl. 

1 5 Daisy fl. 

1 5 Wall-flower fl. 

1 5 Mezereon fl. 

29 Snowdrop fl. 





IN severe weather, fieldfares, red-wings, sky-larks, and 
tit-larks, resort to watered meadows for food ; the latter 
wades up to its belly in pursuit of the pupae of insects, 
and runs along upon the floating grass and weeds. Many 
gnats are on the snow near the water, these support the 
birds in part. 

Birds are much influenced in their choice of food by 
colour, for though white currants are a much sweeter fruit 
than red, yet they seldom touch the former till they have 
devoured every bunch of the latter. 

Red-starts, fly-catchers, and black -caps, arrive early in 
April. If these little delicate beings are birds of passage 
(as we have reason to suppose they are, because they are 
never seen in winter) how could they, feeble as they seem, 
bear up against such storms of snow and rain, and make 
their way through such meteorous turbulences, as one 
should suppose would embarrass and retard the most 
hardy and resolute of the winged nation ? Yet they keep 
their appointed times and seasons ; and in spite of frosts 
and winds return to their stations periodically, as if they 
had met with nothing to obstruct them. The withdrawing 
and appearance of the short winged summer birds is a very 
puzzling circumstance in natural history ! 

When the boys bring me wasps' nests, my bantam fowls 
fare deliciously, and when the combs are pulled to pieces, 


devour the young wasps in their maggot state with the 
highest glee and delight. Any insect-eating bird would do 
the same ; and therefore I have often wondered that the 
accurate Mr. Ray should call one species of buzzard 
buteo apivorus she vespivorus, or the honey buzzard, 
because some combs of wasps happened to be found in 
one of their nests. The combs were conveyed thither 
doubtless for the sake of the maggots or nymphs, and not 
for their honey : since none is to be found in the combs of 
wasps. Birds of prey occasionally feed on insects; thus 
have I seen a tame kite picking up the female ants full of 
eggs with much satisfaction. 


Rooks are continually fighting and pulling each others' 
nests to pieces : these proceedings are inconsistent with 
living in such close community. And yet if a pair offer 
to build on a single tree, the nest is plundered and 
demolished at once. Some rooks roost on their nest 
trees. The twigs which the rooks drop in building supply 
the poor with brushwood to light their fires. Some 
unhappy pairs are not permitted to finish any nest till the 
rest have completed their building. As soon as they get 
a few sticks together, a party comes and demolishes the 
whole. As soon as rooks have finished their nests, and 
before they lay, the cocks begin to feed the hens, who 
receive their bounty with a fondling tremulous voice and 
fluttering wings, and all the little blandishments that are 
expressed by the young, while in a helpless state. This 
gallant deportment of the males is continued throughout 
the whole season of incubation. These birds do not 
copulate on trees, nor in their nests, but on the ground 
in the open fields. 


Thrushes during long droughts are of great service in 
hunting out shell snails, which they pull in pieces for their 


young, and are therefore very serviceable in gardens. 
Missel thrushes do not destroy the fruit in gardens like 
the other species of turdi, but feed on the berries of 
misseltoe, and in the spring on ivy berries, which then 
begin to ripen. In the summer, when their young become 
fledged, they leave neighbourhoods, and retire to sheep 
walks and wild commons. 

The magpies, when they have young, destroy the broods 
of missel thrushes, though the dams are fierce birds, and 
fight boldly in defence of their nests. It is probably to 
avoid such insults, that this species of thrush, though wild 
at other times, delights to build near houses, and in 
frequented walks and gardens. 


Many creatures are endowed with a ready discernment 
to see what will turn to their own advantage and emolu- 
ment ; and often discover more sagacity than could be 
expected. Thus my neighbour's poultry watch for waggons 
loaded with wheat, and running after them pick up a number 
of grains which are shaken from the sheaves by the agitation 
of the carriages. Thus, when my brother used to take down 
his gun to shoot sparrows, his cats would run out before 
him, to be ready to catch up the birds as they fell. 

The earnest and early propensity of the gallinae to roost 
on high is very observable ; and discovers a strong dread 
impressed on their spirits respecting vermin that may 
annoy them on the ground during the hours of darkness. 
Hence poultry, if left to themselves and not housed, will 
perch the winter through on yew-trees and fir-trees ; and 
turkeys and guinea fowls, heavy as they are, get up into 
apple trees ; pheasants also in woods sleep on trees to 
avoid foxes ; while pea-fowls climb to the tops of the 
highest trees round their owner's house for security, let 
the weather be ever so cold or blowing. Partridges, it is 
true, roost on the ground, not having the faculty of perch- 
ing ; but then the same fear prevails in their minds ; for 


through apprehensions from pole-cats and stoats, they 
never trust themselves to coverts, but nestle together in 
the midst of large fields, far removed from hedges and 
coppices, which they love to haunt in the day, and where 
at that season they can sculk more secure from the ravages 
of rapacious birds. 

As to ducks and geese, their awkward splay web-feet 
forbid them to settle on trees; they therefore, in the 
hours of darkness and danger, betake themselves to their 
own element the water, where, amidst large lakes and pools, 
like ships riding at anchor, they float the whole night long 
in peace and security. 


A hen partridge came out of a ditch, and ran along 
shivering with her wings, and crying out as if wounded 
and unable to get from us. While the dam acted this 
distress, the boy who attended me saw her brood, that was 
small and unable to fly, run for shelter into an old fox- 
earth under the bank. So wonderful a power is instinct. 


Lord Stawell sent me from the great lodge in the Holt 
a curious bird for my inspection. It was found by the 
spaniels of one of his keepers in a coppice, and shot on the 
wing. The shape, air, and habit of the bird, and the scarlet 
ring round the eyes, agreed well with the appearance of a 
cock pheasant : but then the head and neck, and breast 
and belly were of a glossy black : and though it weighed 
three pounds three ounces and a half, 1 the weight of a large 
full-grown cock pheasant, yet there were no signs of any 
spurs on the legs, as is usual with all grown cock pheasants, 
who have long ones. The legs and feet were naked of 
feathers, and therefore it could be nothing of the grouse 
kind. In the tail were no long bending feathers, such as 
1 Hen pheasants usually weigh only two pounds ten ounces. 


cock pheasants usually have, and are characteristic of the 
sex. The tail was much shorter than the tail of a hen 
pheasant, and blunt and square at the end. The back, 
wing feathers, and tail, were all of a pale russet curiously 
streaked, somewhat like the upper parts of a hen partridge. 
I returned it with my verdict, that it was probably a spurious 
or hybrid hen bird, bred between a cock pheasant and some 
domestic fowl. When I came to talk with the keeper who 
brought it, he told me that some pea-hens had been known 
last summer to haunt the coppices and coverts where this 
mule was found. 

Mr. Elmer, of Farnham, the famous game painter, was 
employed to take an exact copy of this curious bird. 

TV. B. It ought to be mentioned, that some good judges 
have imagined this bird to have been a stray grouse or 
blackcock; it is however to be observed, that Mr. W. 
remarks, that its legs and feet were naked, whereas those 
of the grouse are feathered to the toes. 


A man brought me a land-rail or daker-hen, a bird so 
rare in this district that we seldom see more than one or 
two in a season, and those only in autumn. This is deemed 
a bird of passage by all the writers : yet from its formation 
seems to be poorly qualified for migration ; for its wings 
are short, and placed so forward, and out of the centre of 
gravity, that it flies in a very heavy and embarrassed manner, 
with its legs hanging down ; and can hardly be sprung a 
second time, as it runs very fast, and seems to depend more 
on the swiftness of its feet than on its flying. 

When we came to draw it, we found the entrails so soft 
and tender, that in appearance they might have been dressed 
like the ropes of a woodcock. The craw or crop was. small 
and lank, containing a mucus ; the gizzard thick and strong, 
and filled with small shell snails, some whole, and many 
ground to pieces through the attrition which is occasioned 
by the muscular force and motion of that intestine. We 


saw no gravels among the food : perhaps the shell snails 
might perform the functions of gravels or pebbles, and 
might grind one another. Land-rails used to abound 
formerly, I remember, in the low wet bean fields of 
Christian Malford in North Wilts, and in the meadows 
near Paradise Gardens at Oxford, where I have often heard 
them cry crex, crex. The bird mentioned above weighed 
7 1 oz., was fat and tender, and in flavour like the flesh of 
a woodcock. The liver was very large and delicate. 


One of my neighbours shot a ring-dove on an evening 
as it was returning from feed and going to roost. When 
his wife had picked and drawn it, she found its craw 
stuffed with the most nice and tender tops of turnips. 
These she washed and boiled, and so sat down to a choice 
and delicate plate of greens, culled and provided in this 
extraordinary manner. 

Hence we may see that graminivorous birds, when 
grain fails, can subsist on the leaves of vegetables. There 
is reason to suppose that they would not long be healthy 
without ; for turkeys, though corn fed, delight in a variety 
of plants, such as cabbage, lettuce, endive, etc. and poultry 
pick much grass ; while geese live for months together on 
commons by grazing alone. 

" Nought is useless made ; 

On the barren heath 

The shepherd tends his flock that daily crop 
Their verdant dinner from the mossy turf 
Sufficient : after them the cackling goose, 
Close-grazer, finds wherewith to ease her want." 



Mr. White of Newton sprung a pheasant in a wheat 
stubble, and shot at it ; when, notwithstanding the report 
of the gun, it was immediately pursued by the blue hawk, 


known by the name of the hen-harrier, but escaped into 
some covert. He then sprung a second, and a third, in 
the same field, that got away in the same manner ; the 
hawk hovering round him all the while that he was beating 
the field, conscious no doubt of the game that lurked in 
the stubble. Hence we may conclude that this bird of 
prey was rendered very daring and bold by hunger, and 
that hawks cannot always seize their game when they 
please. We may farther observe, that they cannot pounce 
their quarry on the ground, where it might be able to 
make a stout resistance, since so large a fowl as a pheasant 
could not but be visible to the piercing eye of a hawk, 
when hovering over the field. Hence that propensity of 
cowring and squatting till they are almost trod on, which 
no doubt was intended as a mode of security : though long 
rendered destructive to the whole race of gallinae by the 
invention of nets and guns. 


As one of my neighbours was traversing Wolmer forest 
from Bramshot across the moors, he found a large un- 
common bird fluttering in the heath, but not wounded, 
which he brought home alive. On examination it proved 
to be colymbus glacialis Linn, the great speckled diver or 
loon, which is most excellently described in Willughby's 

Every part and proportion of this bird is so incomparably 
adapted to this mode of life, that in no instance do we see 
the wisdom of God in the creation to more advantage. 
The head is sharp and smaller than the part of the neck 
adjoining, in order that it may pierce the water ; the wings 
are placed forward and out of the centre of gravity for a 
purpose which shall be noticed hereafter ; the thighs quite 
at the podex, in order to facilitate diving ; and the legs 
are flat, and as sharp backwards almost as the edge of a 
knife, that in striking they may easily cut the water : 
while the feet are palmated, and broad for swimming, yet 


so folded up when advanced forward to take a fresh stroke, 
as to be full as narrow as the shank. The two exterior 
toes of the feet are longest ; the nails flat and broad, 
resembling the human, which give strength and increase 
the power of swimming. The foot, when expanded, is 
not at right angles to the leg or body of the bird : but the 
exterior part inclining towards the head forms an acute 
angle with the body ; the intention being not to give 
motion in the line of the legs themselves, but by the 
combined impulse of both in an intermediate line, the line 
of the body. 

Most people know, that have observed at all, that the 
swimming of birds is nothing more than a walking in the 
water, where one foot succeeds the other as on the land ; 
yet no one, as far as I am aware, has remarked that diving 
fowls, while under water, impel and row themselves forward 
by a motion of their wings, as well as by the impulse of 
their feet : but such is really the case, as any person may 
easily be convinced, who will observe ducks when hunted 
by dogs in a clear pond. Nor do I know that any one has 
given a reason why the wings of diving fowls are placed so 
forward: doubtless, not for the purpose of promoting their 
speed in flying, since that position certainly impedes it ; 
but probably for the increase of their motion under water, 
by the use of four oars instead of two ; yet were the wings 
and feet nearer together, as in land-birds, they would, 
when in action, rather hinder than assist one another. 

This colymbus was of considerable bulk, weighing only 
three drachms short of three pounds avoirdupois. It 
measured in length from the bill to the tail (which was 
very short) two feet, and to the extremities of the toes, 
four inches more ; and the breadth of the wings expanded 
was 42 inches. A person attempted to eat the body, but 
found it very strong and rancid, as is the flesh of all birds 
living on fish. Divers or loons, though bred in the most 
northerly parts of Europe, yet are seen with us in very 
severe winters ; and on the Thames are called sprat loons, 
because they prey much on that sort offish. 

The legs of the colymbi and mergi are placed so very 


backward, and so out of all centre of gravity, that these 
birds cannot walk at all. They are called by Linnaeus 
compedes, because they move on the ground as if shackled 
or fettered. 


On the lyth of February 1788, Stone Curlews were 
heard to pipe ; and on March ist, after it was dark, some 
were passing over the village, as might be perceived by 
their quick short note, which they use in their nocturnal 
excursions by way of watch-word, that they may not stray 
and lose their companions. 

Thus, we see, that retire whithersoever they may in the 
winter, they return again early in the spring, and are, as it 
now appears, the first summer birds that come back. 
Perhaps the mildness of the season may have quickened 
the emigration of the curlews this year. 

They spend the day in high elevated fields and sheep- 
walks ; but seem to descend in the night to streams and 
meadows, perhaps for water, which their upland haunts do 
not afford them. 


The smallest uncrested willow wren, or chifF chaf, is 
the next early summer bird which we have remarked ; it 
utters two sharp piercing notes, so loud in hollow woods, 
as to occasion an echo, and is usually first heard about the 
20th of March. 


The country people have a notion that the fern owl, or 
churn owl, or eve-jarr, which they also call a puckeridge, 
is very injurious to weanling calves, by inflicting, as it 
strikes at them, the fatal distemper known to cow-leeches 
by the name of puckeridge. Thus does this harmless ill- 


fated bird fall under a double imputation which it by no 
means deserves in Italy, of sucking the teats of goats, 
whence it is called caprimulgus ; and with us, of com- 
municating a deadly disorder to cattle. But the truth of 
the matter is, the malady above mentioned is occasioned 
by the oestrus bovis, a dipterous insect, which lays its eggs 
along the chines of kine, where the maggots, when hatched, 
eat their way through the hide of the beast into the flesh, 
and grow to a very large size. I have just talked with a 
man, who says, he has more than once stripped calves who 
have died of the puckeridge ; that the ail or complaint lay 
along the chine, where the flesh was much swelled, and 
filled with purulent matter. Once I myself saw a large 
rough maggot of this sort squeezed out of the back of a 

These maggots in Essex are called wornils. 

The least observation and attention would convince 
men, that these birds neither injure the goatherd nor the 
grazier, but are perfectly harmless, and subsist alone, being 
night birds, on night insects, such as scarabaei, and 
phalaenae ; and through the month of July mostly on the 
scarabaeus solstitialis, which in many districts abounds at that 
season. Those that we have opened, have always had 
their craws stuffed with large night moths and their eggs, 
and pieces of chaffers : nor does it anywise appear how 
they can, weak and unarmed as they seem, inflict any 
harm upon kine, unless they possess the powers of 
animal magnetism, and can affect them by fluttering 
over them. 

A fern owl, this evening (August 27) showed off in a 
very unusual and entertaining manner, by hawking round 
and round the circumference of my great spreading oak 
for twenty times following, keeping mostly close to the 
grass, but occasionally glancing up amidst the boughs of 
the tree. This amusing bird was then in pursuit of a 
brood of some particular phalaena belonging to the oak, 
of which there are several sorts ; and exhibited on the 
occasion a command of wing superior, I think, to that of 
the swallow itself. 


When a person approaches the haunt of fern owls in an 
evening, they continue flying round the head of the 
obtruder ; and by striking their wings together above 
their backs, in the manner that the pigeons called smiters 
are known to do, make a smart snap : perhaps at that time 
they are jealous for their young ; and their noise and 
gesture are intended by way of menace. 

Fern-owls have attachment to oaks, no doubt on 
account of food ; for the next evening we saw one again 
several times among the boughs of the same tree ; but it 
did not skim round its stem over the grass, as on the 
evening before. In May these birds find the scarabaeus 
melontha on the oak ; and the scarabaeus solstitialis at mid- 
summer. These peculiar birds can only be watched and 
observed for two hours in the twenty-four : and then 
in a dubious twilight an hour after sun-set and an hour 
before sun-rise. 

On this day (July 14, 1789) a woman brought me two 
eggs of a fern-owl or eve-jarr, which she found on the 
verge of the Hanger, to the left of the hermitage under 
a beechen shrub. This person, who lives just at the foot 
of the Hanger, seems well acquainted with these nocturnal 
swallows, and says she has often found their eggs near 
that place, and that they lay only two at a time on the 
bare ground. The eggs were oblong, dusky, and streaked 
somewhat in the manner of the plumage of the parent 
bird, and were equal in size at each end. The dam was 
sitting on the eggs when found, which contained the 
rudiments of young, and would have been hatched perhaps 
in a week. From hence we may see the time of their 
breeding, which corresponds pretty well with that of the 
swift, as does also the period of their arrival. Each 
species is usually seen about the beginning of May. Each 
breeds but once in a summer ; each lays only two eggs. 

July 4, 1790. The woman who brought me two fern- 
owl's eggs last year on July 14, on this day produced me 
two more, one of which had been laid this morning, as 
appears plainly, because there was only one in the nest the 
evening before. They were found, as last July, on the 


verge of the "down above the hermitage under a beechen 
shrub, on the naked ground. Last year those eggs were 
full of young, and just ready to be hatched. 

These circumstances point out the exact time when 
these curious nocturnal migratory birds lay their eggs and 
hatch their young. Fern-owls, like snipes, stone curlews, 
and some other birds, make no nest. Birds that build on 
the ground do not make much of nests. 


March 23, 1788. A gentleman who was this week on 
a visit at Waverley, took the opportunity of examining 
some of the holes in the sand banks with which that 
district abounds. As these are undoubtedly bored by 
bank martins, and are the places where they avowedly 
breed, he was in hopes they might have slept there also, 
and that he might have surprised them just as they were 
awaking from their winter slumbers. When he had dug 
for some time, he found the holes were horizontal and 
serpentine, as I had observed before : and that the nests 
were deposited at the inner end, and had been occupied 
by broods in former summers, but no torpid birds were to 
be found. He opened and examined about a dozen holes. 
Another gentleman made the same search many years ago, 
with as little success. 

These holes were in depth about two feet. 

March 21, 1790. A single bank or sand martin was 
seen hovering and playing round the sand pit at Short 
Heath, where in the summer they abound. 

April 9, 1793. A sober hind assures us, that this 
day, on Wish-hanger common between Hedleigh and 
Frinsham, he saw several bank-martins playing in and 
out, and hanging before some nest holes in a sand-hill, 
where these birds usually nestle. 

This incident confirms my suspicions that this species of 
hirundo is to be seen first of any ; and gives great reason 
to suppose that they do not leave their wild haunts at all, 


but are secreted amidst the clefts and caverns of those 
abrupt cliffs where they usually spend their summers. 

The late severe weather considered, it is not very 
probable that these birds should have migrated so early 
from a tropical region, through all these cutting winds and 
pinching frosts : but it is easy to suppose that they may, 
like bats and flies, have been awakened by the influence of 
the sun, amidst their secret latebrae, where they have 
spent the uncomfortable foodless months in a torpid state, 
and the profoundest of slumbers. 

There is a large pond at Wish-hanger, which induces 
these sand-martins to frequent that district. For I have 
ever remarked that they haunt near great waters, either 
rivers or lakes. 


During the severe winds that often prevail late in the 
spring, it is not easy to say how the hirundines subsist : 
for they withdraw themselves, and are hardly ever seen, 
nor do any insects appear for their support. That they 
can retire to rest, and sleep away these uncomfortable 
periods, as bats do, is a matter rather to be suspected than 
proved : or do they not rather spend their time in deep 
and sheltered vales near waters, where insects are more 
likely to be found ? Certain it is, that hardly any indi- 
viduals of this genus have at such times been seen for 
several days together. 

September 13, 1791. The congregating flocks of 
hirundines on the church and tower are very beautiful 
and amusing ! When they fly off together from the roof, 
on any alarm, they quite swarm the air. But they soon 
settle in heaps, and preening their feathers, and lifting up 
their wings to admit the sun, seem highly to enjoy the 
warm situation. Thus they spend the heat of the day, 
preparing for their emigration, and, as it were, consulting 
when and where they are to go. The flight about the 


church seems" to consist chiefly of house martins, about 400 
in number : but there are other places of rendezvous 
about the village frequented at the same time. 

It is remarkable, that though most of them sit on the 
battlements and roof, yet many hang or cling for some 
time by their claws against the surface of the walls, in a 
manner not practised by them at any other time of their 
remaining with us. 

The swallows seem to delight more in holding their 
assemblies on trees. 

November 3, 1789. Two swallows were seen this 
morning at Newton vicarage-house, hovering and settling 
on the roofs and out-buildings. None have been observed 
at Selborne since October 1 1 . It is very remarkable, that 
after the hirundines have disappeared for some weeks, a 
few are occasionally seen again : sometimes, in the first 
week in November, and that only for one day. Do they 
not withdraw and slumber in some hiding place during the 
interval ? for we cannot suppose they had migrated to 
warmer climes and so returned again for one day. Is it 
not more probable that they are awakened from sleep, and 
like the bats are come forth to collect a little food ? Bats 
appear at all seasons through the autumn and spring 
months, when the thermometer is at 50, because then 
phalaenae and moths are stirring. 

These swallows looked like young ones. 


While the cows are feeding in moist low pastures, 
broods of wagtails, white and grey, run round them, close 
up to their noses, and under their very bellies, availing 
themselves of the flies that settle on their legs, and 
probably finding worms and larvae that are roused by the 
trampling of their feet. Nature is such an economist, 
that the most incongruous animals can avail themselves of 
each other ! 

Interest makes strange friendships. 



These birds appear on the grass-plots and walks ; they 
walk a little as well as hop, and thrust their bills into the 
turf, in quest, I conclude, of ants, which are their food. 
While they hold their bills in the grass, they draw out 
their prey with their tongues, which are so long as to be 
coiled round their heads. 


Mr. B. shot a cock grosbeak which he had observed to 
haunt his garden for more than a fortnight. I began to 
accuse this bird of making sad havoc among the buds of 
the cherries, gooseberries, and wall-fruit of the neighbouring 
orchards. Upon opening its crop or craw, no buds were 
to be seen ; but a mass of kernels of the stones of fruits. 
Mr. B. observed that this bird frequented the spot where 
plum-trees grow ; and that he had seen it with somewhat 
hard in its mouth, which it broke with difficulty ; these 
were the stones of damsons. The latin ornithologists call 
this bird coccothramtes, i.e. berry-breaker, because with its 
large horny beak it cracks and breaks the shells of stone 
fruits for the sake of the seed or kernel. Birds of this 
sort are rarely seen in England, and only in winter. 



THE sheep on the downs this winter (1769) are very 
ragged, and their coats much torn ; the shepherds say 
they tear their fleeces with their own mouths and horns, 
and they are always in that way in mild wet winters, being 
teased and tickled with a kind of lice. 

After ewes and lambs are shorn, there is great confusion 
and bleating, neither the dams nor the young being able 
to distinguish one another as before. This embarrass- 
ment seems not so much to arise from the loss of the 
fleece, which may occasion an alteration in their appearance, 
as from the defect of that notus odor, discriminating each 
individual personally ; which also is confounded by the 
strong scent of the pitch and tar wherewith they are newly 
marked ; for the brute creation recognize each other more 
from the smell than the sight ; and in matters of identity 
and diversity appeal much more to their noses than their 
eyes. After sheep have been washed there is the same 
confusion, from the reason given above. 


Rabbits make incomparably the finest turf, for they not 
only bite closer than larger quadrupeds, but they allow no 
bents to rise ; hence warrens produce much the most 
delicate turf for gardens. Sheep never touch the stalks of 




A boy has taken three little young squirrels in their 
nest, or drey as it is called in these parts. These small 
creatures he put under the care of a cat who had lately 
lost her kittens, and finds that she nurses and suckles them 
with the same assiduity and affection, as if they were her 
own offspring. This circumstance corroborates my 
suspicion, that the mention of exposed and deserted 
children being nurtured by female beasts of prey who had 
lost their young, may not be so improbable an incident as 
many have supposed ; and therefore may be a justification 
of those authors who have gravely mentioned, what some 
have deemed to be a wild and improbable story. 

So many people went to see the little squirrels suckled 
by a cat, that the foster mother became jealous of her 
charge, and in pain for their safety ; and therefore hid 
them over the ceiling, where one died. This circumstance 
shows her affection for these fondlings, and that she 
supposes the squirrels to be her own young. Thus hens, 
when they have hatched ducklings, are equally attached 
to them as if they were her own chickens. 


An old hunting mare, which ran on the common, being 
taken very ill, ran down into the village, as it were, to 
implore the help of men, and died the night following in 
the street. 


The king's stag-hounds came down to Alton, attended 
by a huntsman and six yeomen prickers, with horns, to 
try for the stag that has haunted Hartley Wood for so 
long a time. Many hundreds of people, horse and foot, 
attended the dogs to see the deer unharboured ; but 
though the huntsman drew Hartley Wood, and Long 


Coppice, and- Shrubwood, and Temple Hangers, and in 
their way back Hartley and Ward le ham Hangers, yet no 
stag could be found. 

The royal pack, accustomed to have the deer turned out 
before them, never drew the coverts with any address and 
spirit, as many people that were present observed ; and 
this remark the event has proved to be a true one. For 
as a person was lately pursuing a pheasant that was wing- 
broken in Hartley Wood, he stumbled upon the stag by 
accident, and ran in upon him as he lay concealed amidst 
a thick brake of brambles and bushes. 



THE day and night insects occupy the annuals alternately : 
the papilios, muscae, and apes, are succeeded at the close of 
day by phalaenae, earwigs, woodlice, etc. In the dusk of 
the evening, when beetles begin to buz, partridges begin 
to call ; these two circumstances are exactly coincident. 

Ivy is the last flower that supports the hymenopterous 
and dipterous insects. On sunny days quite on to Novem- 
ber they swarm on trees covered with this plant ; and 
when they disappear, probably retire under the shelter of 
its leaves, concealing themselves between its fibres and the 
trees which it entwines. Spiders, woodlice, lepismae in 
cupboards and among sugar, some empedes, gnats, flies of 
several species, some phalaenae in hedges, earth-worms, etc. 
are stirring at all times when winters are mild ; and are of 
great service to those soft-billed birds that never leave us. 

On every sunny day the winter through, clouds of 
insects usually called gnats (I suppose tipulae and empedes) 
appear sporting and dancing over the tops of the ever-green 
trees in the shrubbery, and frisking about as if the business 
of generation was still going on. Hence it appears that 
these diptera (which by their sizes appear to be of different 
species) are not subject to a torpid state in the winter, as 
most winged insects are. At night, and in frosty weather, 
and when it rains and blows, they seem to retire into those 
trees. They often are out in a fog. 



There is a natural occurrence to be met with upon the 
highest part of our down in hot summer days, which 
always amuses me much, without giving me any satis- 
faction with respect to the cause of it ; and that is a loud 
audible humming of bees in the air, though not one insect 
is to be seen. This sound is to be heard distinctly the 
whole common through, from the Money-dells, to Mr. 
White's avenue gate. Any person would suppose that 
a large swarm of bees was in motion, and playing about 
over his head. This noise was heard last week, on June 

" Resounds the living surface of the ground, 
Nor undelightful is the ceaseless hum 
To him who muses at noon." 

" Thick in yon stream of light a thousand ways, 
Upward and downward, thwarting and convolv'd, 
The quivering nations sport." THOMSON'S Seasons. 


Cockchaffers seldom abound oftener than once in three 
or four years ; when they swarm, they deface the trees and 
hedges. Whole woods of oaks are stripped bare by them. 

Chaffers are eaten by the turkey, the rook, and the 

The scar abacus solstitialis first appears about June 26 : 
they are very punctual in their coming out every year. 
They are a small species, about half the size of the May- 
chaffer, and are known in some parts by the name of the 


Those maggots that make worm-holes in tables, chairs, 
bed-posts, etc. and destroy wooden furniture, especially 
where there is any sap, are the larvae of the ptinus pectini- 
cornis. This insect, it is probable, deposits its eggs on the 
surface, and the worms eat their way in. 


In their holes they turn into their pupae state, and so 
come forth winged in July : eating their way through the 
valances or curtains of a bed, or any other furniture that 
happens to obstruct their passage. 

They seem to be most inclined to breed in beech ; hence 
beech will not make lasting utensils, or furniture. If their 
eggs are deposited on the surface, frequent rubbing will 
preserve wooden furniture. 


A neighbour complained to me that her house was over- 
run with a kind of black beetle, or as she expressed herself, 
with a kind of black-bob, which swarmed in her kitchen 
when they got up in the. morning before daybreak. 

Soon after this account, I observed an unusual insect in 
one of my dark chimney closets, and find since, that in the 
night they swarm also in my kitchen. On examination, I 
soon ascertained the species to be the blatta orientalis of 
Linnaeus, and the blatta mokndinaria of MoufFet. The 
male is winged ; the female is not, but shows somewhat 
like the rudiments of wings, as if in the pupa state. 

These insects belonged originally to the warmer parts 
of America, and were conveyed from thence by shipping 
to the East Indies ; and by means of commerce begin to 
prevail in the more northern parts of Europe, as Russia, 
Sweden, etc. How long they have abounded in England 
I cannot say ; but have never observed them in my house 
till lately. 

They love warmth, and haunt chimney-closets, and the 
backs of ovens. Poda says that these and house-crickets 
will not associate together; but he is mistaken in that 
assertion, as Linnaeus suspected he was. They are alto- 
gether night insects, lucifugae, never coming forth till the 
rooms are dark and still, and escaping away nimbly at the 
approach of a candle. Their antennae are remarkably long, 
slender, and flexile. 

October 1790. After the servants are gone to bed, the 


kitchen hearth swarms with young crickets, and young blattae 
molendinariae of all sizes, from the most minute growth 
to their full proportions. They seem to live in a friendly 
manner together, and not to prey the one on the other. 

August 1792. After the destruction of many thousands 
of blattae molendinariae, we find that at intervals a fresh de- 
tachment of old ones arrives, and particularly during this hot 
season : for the windows being left open in the evenings, 
the males come flying in at the casements from the neigh- 
bouring houses, which swarm with them. How the females, 
that seem to have no perfect wings that they can use, can 
contrive to get from house to house, does not so readily 
appear. These, like many insects, when they find their 
present abodes over-stocked, have powers of migrating to 
fresh quarters. Since the blattae have been so much kept 
under, the crickets have greatly increased in number. 


November. After the servants are gone to bed, the 
kitchen hearth swarms with minute crickets not so large 
as fleas, which must have been lately hatched. So that 
these domestic insects, cherished by the influence of a 
constant large fire, regard not the season of the year, 
but produce their young at a time when their congeners 
are either dead, or laid up for the winter, to pass away the 
uncomfortable months in the profoundest slumbers, and a 
state of torpidity. 

When house-crickets are out, and running about in 
a room in the night, if surprised by a candle, they give 
two or three shrill notes, as it were for a signal to 
their fellows, that they may escape to their crannies and 
lurking holes, to avoid danger. 


August 12, 1775. Cimices linear es are now in high 
copulation on ponds and pools. The females, who vastly 


exceed the males in bulk, dart and shoot along on the 
surface of the water with the males on their backs. When 
a female chooses to be disengaged, she rears, and jumps, 
and plunges, like an unruly colt ; the lover thus dis- 
mounted, soon finds a new mate. The females, as fast 
as their curiosities are satisfied, retire to another part of 
the lake, perhaps to deposit their foetus in quiet; hence 
the sexes are found separate, except where generation is 
going on. From the multitude of minute young of all 
gradations of sizes, these insects seem without doubt to 
be viviparous. 


Most of our oaks are naked of leaves, and even the 
Holt in general, having been ravaged by the caterpillars of 
a small phalaena which is of a pale yellow colour. These 
insects, though a feeble race, yet, from their infinite 
numbers, are of wonderful effect, being able to destroy the 
foliage of whole forests and districts. At this season they 
leave their aureliae, and issue forth in their fly-state, 
swarming and covering the trees and hedges. 

In a field at Greatham, I saw a flight of swifts busied in 
catching their prey near the ground ; and found they were 
hawking after these phalaenae. The aurelia of this moth 
is shining and as black as jet; and lies wrapped up in 
a leaf of the tree, which is rolled round it, and secured 
at the ends by a web, to prevent the maggot from falling 


June 10, 1771. Myriads of May flies appear for the 
first time on the Alresford stream. The air was crowded 
with them, and the surface of the water covered. Large 
trouts sucked them in as they lay struggling on the 
surface of the stream, unable to rise till their wings were 


This appearance reconciled me in some measure to 
the wonderful account that Scopoli gives of the quantities 
emerging from the rivers of Carniola. Their motions are 
very peculiar, up and down for many yards almost in 
a perpendicular line. 


A vast insect appears after it is dusk, flying with a 
humming noise, and inserting its tongue into the bloom of 
the honeysuckle; it scarcely settles upon the plants, but 
feeds on the wing in the manner of humming birds. 


There is a sort of wild bee frequenting the garden- 
campion for the sake of its tomentum, which probably it 
turns to some purpose in the business of nidification. It 
is very pleasant to see with what address it strips oft 
the pubes, running from the top to the bottom of a 
branch, and shaving it bare with all the dexterity of a 
hoop-shaver. When it has got a vast bundle, almost 
as large as itself, it flies away, holding it secure between its 
chin and its fore legs. 

There is a remarkable hill on the downs near Lewes in 
Sussex, known by the name of Mount Carburn, which 
overlooks that town, and affords a most engaging prospect 
of all the country round, besides several views of the sea. 
On the very summit of this exalted promontory, and 
amidst the trenches of its Danish camp, there haunts a 
species of wild bee, making its nest in the chalky soil. 
When people approach the place, these insects begin to be 
alarmed, and, with a sharp and hostile sound, dash and 
strike round the heads and faces of intruders. I have 
often been interrupted myself while contemplating the 
grandeur of the scenery around me, and have thought 
myself in danger of being stung. 



Wasps abound in woody wild districts far from neigh- 
bourhoods ; they feed on flowers, and catch flies and cater- 
pillars to carry to their young. Wasps make their nests 
with the raspings of sound timber ; hornets, with what they 
gnaw from decayed : these particles of wood are kneaded 
up with a mixture of saliva from their bodies, and moulded 
into combs. 

When there is no fruit in the gardens, wasps eat flies, 
and suck the honey from flowers, from ivy blossoms, and 
umbellated plants : they carry off also flesh from butchers' 


This insect lays its nits or eggs on horses' legs, flanks, 
etc. each on a single hair. The maggots when hatched do 
not enter the horses' skins, but fall to the ground. It 
seems to abound most in moist, moorish places, though 
sometimes seen in the uplands. 


About the beginning of July, a species of fly (musca) 
obtains, which proves very tormenting to horses, trying 
still to enter their nostrils and ears, and actually laying 
their eggs in the latter of those organs, or perhaps in both. 
When these abound, horses in woodland districts become 
very impatient at their work, continually tossing their 
heads, and rubbing their noses on each other, regardless 
of the driver, so that accidents often ensue. In the heat 
of the day, men are often obliged to desist from ploughing. 
Saddle-horses are also very troublesome at such seasons. 
Country people call this insect the nose fly. 



I saw lately a small ichneumon fly attack a spider much 
larger than itself on a grass walk. When the spider made 
any resistance, the ichneumon applied her tail to him, and 
stung him with great vehemence, so that he soon became 
dead and motionless. The ichneumon then running back- 
ward drew her prey very nimbly over the walk into the 
standing grass. This spider would be deposited in some 
hole where the ichneumon would lay some eggs ; and as 
soon as the eggs were hatched, the carcase would afford 
ready food for the maggots. 

Perhaps some eggs might be injected into the body of 
the spider, in the act of stinging. Some ichneumons 
deposit their eggs in the aurelia of moths and butterflies. 


The bombylius medius is much about in March and the 
beginning of April, and soon seems to retire. It is an hairy 
insect, like an humble-bee, but with only two wings, and a 
long straight beak, with which it sucks the early flowers. 
The female seems to lay its eggs as it poises on its wings, 
by striking its tail on the ground, and against the grass 
that stands in its way, in a quick manner, for several times 


In the decline of the year, when mornings and evenings 
become chilly, many species of flies (muscae] retire into 
houses, and swarm in the windows. 

At first they are very brisk and alert ; but as they grow 
more torpid, one cannot help observing that they move 
with difficulty, and are scarce able to lift their legs, which 
seem as if glued to the glass; and by degrees many do 
actually stick on till they die in the place. 

It has been observed that divers flies, besides their sharp 


hooked nails, have also skinny palms, or flaps to their feet, 
whereby they are enabled to stick on glass and other 
smooth bodies, and to walk on ceilings with their backs 
downward, by means of the pressure of the atmosphere on 
those flaps ; the weight of which they easily overcome in 
warm weather when they are brisk and alert. But in the 
decline of the year, this resistance becomes too mighty for 
their diminished strength ; and we see flies labouring along, 
and lugging their feet in windows as if they stuck fast to 
the glass, and it is with the utmost difficulty they can draw 
one foot after another, and disengage their hollow caps 
from the slippery surface. 

Upon the same principle that flies stick and support 
themselves, do boys, by way of play, carry heavy weights 
by only a piece of wet leather at the end of a string clapped 
close on the surface of a stone. 


Millions of empedes, or tipulae, come forth at the 
close of day, and swarm to such a degree as to fill the air. 
At this juncture they sport and copulate ; as it grows more 
dark they retire. All day they hide in the hedges. As 
they rise in a cloud they appear like smoke. 

I do not ever remember to have seen such swarms, 
except in the fens of the Isle of Ely. They appear 
most over grass grounds. 


August 23. Every ant-hill about this time is in a 
strange hurry and confusion ; and all the winged ants, 
agitated by some violent impulse, are leaving their homes, 
and, bent on emigration, swarm by myriads in the air, to 
the great emolument of the hirundines, which fare 
luxuriously. Those that escape the swallows return no 
more to their nests, but looking out for fresh settlements, 
lay a foundation for future colonies. All the females at 


this time are pregnant : the males that escape being eaten, 
wander away and die. 

October 2. Flying ants, male and female, usually 
swarm and migrate on hot sunny days in August and 
September ; but this day a vast emigration took place in 
my garden, and myriads came forth, in appearance from 
the drain which goes under the fruit wall ; filling the air 
and the adjoining trees and shrubs with their numbers. 
The females were full of eggs. This late swarming is 
probably owing to the backward, wet season. The 
day following, not one flying ant was to be seen. 

Horse-ants travel home to their nests laden with flies, 
which they have caught, and the aureliae of smaller ants, 
which they seize by violence. 


By observing two glow-worms which were brought 
from the field to the bank in the garden, it appeared to us, 
that these little creatures put out their lamps between eleven 
and twelve, and shine no more for the rest of the night. 

Male glow-worms, attracted by the light of the candles, 
come into the parlour. 


Earth-worms make their casts most in mild weather 
about March and April ; they do not lie torpid in winter, 
but come forth when there is no frost ; they travel about in 
rainy nights, as appears from their sinuous tracks on the 
soft muddy soil, perhaps in search of food. 

When earth-worms lie out a-nights on the turf, though 
they extend their bodies a great way, they do not quite 
leave their holes, but keep the ends of their tails fixed 
therein, so that on the least alarm they can retire with 
precipitation under the earth. Whatever food falls 
within their reach when thus extended, they seem to be 
content with, such as blades of grass, straws, fallen leaves, 


the ends of which they often draw into their holes ; even 
in copulation their hinder parts never quit their holes ; 
so that no two, except they lie within reach of each 
other's bodies, can have any commerce of that kind ; but 
as every individual is an hermaphrodite, there is no 
difficulty in meeting with a mate, as would be the case 
were they of different sexes. 


The shell-less snails called slugs are in motion all the 
winter in mild weather, and commit great depredations on 
garden plants, and much injure the green wheat, the loss 
of which is imputed to earth-worms ; while the shelled 
snail, the (pepeoucos, does not come forth at all till about 
April loth, and not only lays itself up pretty early in 
autumn, in places secure from frost, but also throws out 
round the mouth of its shell a thick operculum formed 
from its own saliva ; so that it is perfectly secured, and 
corked up as it were, from all inclemencies. The cause 
why the slugs are able to endure the cold so much better 
than shell-snails is, that their bodies are covered with slime 
as whales are with blubber. 

Snails copulate about Midsummer ; and soon after 
deposit their eggs in the mould by running their heads and 
bodies under ground. Hence the way to be rid of them 
is to kill as many as possible before they begin to breed. 

Large, grey, shell-less cellar snails lay themselves up 
about the same time with those that live abroad ; hence it 
is plain that a defect of warmth is not the only cause that 
influences their retreat. 


" There the snake throws her enamelled skin." 

SHAKSPEARE, Mids.-Night's Dream. 

About the middle of this month (September) we found 
in a field near a hedge the slough of a large snake, which 


seemed to have been newly cast. From circumstances it 
appeared as if turned wrong side outward, and as drawn 
off backward, like a stocking or woman's glove. Not 
only the whole skin, but scales from the very eyes, are 
peeled off, and appear in the head of the slough like a pair 
of spectacles. The reptile, at the time of changing his 
coat, had entangled himself intricately in the grass and 
weeds, so that the friction of the stalks and blades might 
promote this curious shifting of the exuviae. 

" Lubrica serpens 

Exuit in spinis vestem." LUCRET. 

It would be a most entertaining sight could a person be 
an eye-witness to such a feat, and see the snake in the act 
of changing his garment. As the convexity of the scales 
of the eyes in the slough is now inward, that circumstance 
alone is a proof that the skin has been turned : not to 
mention that now the present inside is much darker than 
the outer. If you look through the scales of the snake's 
eyes from the concave side, viz. as the reptile used them, 
they lessen objects much. Thus it appears from what has 
been said, that snakes crawl out of the mouth of their own 
sloughs, and quit the tail part last, just as eels are skinned 
by a cook maid. While the scales of the eyes are growing 
loose, and a new skin is forming, the creature, in appear- 
ance, must be blind, and feel itself in an awkward uneasy 



ONE of the first trees that becomes naked is the walnut ; 
the mulberry, the ash, especially if it bears many keys, and 
the horse-chestnut come next. All looped trees, while 
their heads are young, carry their leaves a long while. 
Apple-trees and peaches remain green very late, often till 
the end of November : young beeches never cast their 
leaves till spring, till the new leaves sprout and push them 
off: in the autumn the beechen-leaves turn of a deep 
chestnut colour. Tall beeches cast their leaves about the 
end of October. 


Mr. Marsham of Stratton, near Norwich, informs me 
by letter thus : "I became a planter early ; so that an oak 
which I planted in 1720 is become now, at I foot from 
the earth, 12 feet 6 inches in circumference, and at 14 feet 
(the half of the timber length) is 8 feet 2 inches. So if 
the bark was to be measured as timber, the tree gives 1 16| 
feet, buyer's measure. Perhaps you never heard of a larger 
oak while the planter was living. I flatter myself that I 
increased the growth by washing the stem, and digging a 
circle as far as I supposed the roots to extend, and by 
spreading sawdust, etc. as related in the Phil. Trans. I 
wish I had begun with beeches (my favourite trees as well 
as yours), I might then have seen very large trees of my 



own raising. But I did not begin with beech till 1741, 
and then by seed; so that my largest is now at five feet 
from the ground, 6 feet 3 inches in girth, and with its head 
spreads a circle of 20 yards diameter. This tree was also 
dug round, washed, etc." Stratton, 24 July, 1790. 

The circumference of trees planted by myself at i foot 
from the ground (1790). 

Feet. Inches. 

Oak in I 73 - - 4 5 

Ash 5730 - - 4 6i 

Great fir 1751 - - 5 o 

Greatest beech 1751- - 4 o 

Elm 1 1S ~ - 5 3 

Lime 1 7$6 ~ ~ 5 5 

The great oak in the Holt, which is deemed by Mr. 
Marsham to be the biggest in this island, at 7 feet from 
the ground, measures in circumference 34 feet. It has in 
old times lost several of its boughs, and is tending to 
decay. Mr. Marsham computes, that at 14 feet length 
this oak contains 1000 feet of timber. 

It has been the received opinion that trees grow in 
height only by their annual upper shoot. But my neigh- 
bour over the way, whose occupation confines him to one 
spot, assures me that trees are expanded and raised in the 
lower parts also. The reason that he gives is this: the 
point of one of my firs began for the first time to peep 
over an opposite roof at the beginning of summer ; but 
before the growing season was over, the whole shoot of the 
year, and three or four joints of the body beside, became 
visible to him as he sits on his form in his shop. Ac- 
cording to this supposition, a tree may advance in height 
considerably, though the summer shoot should be destroyed 
every year. 


If the bough of a vine is cut late in the spring, just 
before the shoots push out, it will bleed considerably ; but 
after the leaf is out, any part may be taken off without the 


least inconvenience. So oaks may be barked while the 
leaf is budding; but as soon as they are expanded, the 
bark will no longer part from the wood, because the sap 
that lubricates the bark and makes it part, is evaporated off 
through the leaves. 


When oaks are quite stripped of their leaves by chaffers, 
they are clothed again soon after Midsummer with a beauti- 
ful foliage : but beeches, horse-chestnuts and maples, once 
defaced by those insects-, never recover their beauty again 
for the whole season. 


Many ash trees bear loads of keys every year, others 
never seem to bear any at all. The prolific ones are naked 
of leaves and unsightly ; those that are sterile abound in 
foliage, and carry their verdure a long while, and are 
pleasing objects. 


May 12. The sycamore or great maple is in bloom, 
and at this season makes a beautiful appearance, and affords 
much pabulum for bees, smelling strongly like honey. The 
foliage of this tree is very fine, and very ornamental to out- 
lets. All the maples have saccharine juices. 


The stalks and ribs of the leaves of the Lombardy 
poplar are embossed with large tumours of an oblong 
shape, which by incurious observers have been taken for 
the fruit of the tree. These galls are full of small insects, 
some of which are winged, and some not. The parent 


insect is of the genus of synips. Some poplars in the garden 
are quite loaded with these excrescences. 


John Carpenter brings home some old chestnut trees 
which are very long; in several places the wood-peckers 
had begun to bore them. The timber and bark of these 
trees are so very like oak, as might easily deceive an 
indifferent observer, but the wood is very shakey, and 
towards the heart cup-shakey (that is to say, apt to sepa- 
rate in round pieces like cups) so that the inward parts 
are of no use. They are bought for the purpose of 
cooperage, but must make but ordinary barrels, buckets, 
etc. Chestnut sells for half the price of oak ; but has 
sometimes been sent into the king's docks, and passed 
off instead of oak. 


Dr. Chandler tells, that in the south of France, an 
infusion of the blossoms of the lime tree, tilia, is in much 
esteem as a remedy for coughs, hoarsenesses, fevers, etc. 
and that at Nismes, he saw an avenue of limes that 
was quite ravaged and torn in pieces by people greedily 
gathering the bloom, which they dried and kept for these 

Upon the strength of this information we made some 
tea of lime blossoms, and found it very soft, well-flavoured, 
pleasant, saccharine julep, in taste much resembling the 
juice of liquorice. 


This tree usually blossoms while cold N.E. winds blow ; 
so that the harsh rugged weather obtaining at this season, 
is called by the country people, blackthorn winter. 



Ivy berries afford a noble and providential supply for 
birds in winter and spring ; for the first severe frost 
freezes and spoils all the haws, sometimes by the middle of 
November ; ivy berries do not seem to freeze. 


The culture of Virgil's vines corresponded very exactly 
with the modern management of hops. I might instance 
in the perpetual diggings and hoeings, in the tying to the 
stakes and poles, in pruning the superfluous shoots, etc. 
but lately I have observed a new circumstance, which was 
a neighbouring farmer's harrowing between the rows of 
hops with a small triangular harrow, drawn by one horse, 
and guided by two handles. This occurrence brought to 
my mind the following passage 

Flectere luctantes inter vineta juvencos." Georgic II. 

Hops are diecious plants : hence perhaps it might be 
proper, though not practised, to leave purposely some 
male plants in every garden, that their farina might im- 
pregnate the blossoms. The female plants without their 
male attendants are not in their natural state : hence we 
may suppose the frequent failure of crop so incident to 
hop-grounds; no other growth, cultivated by man, has 
such frequent and general failures as hops. 

Two hop gardens much injured by a hail-storm, June 5, 
show now (September 2) a prodigious crop, and larger and 
fairer hops than any in the parish. The owners seem now 
to be convinced that the hail, by beating off the tops 
of the binds, has increased the side-shoots, and improved 
the crop. Query. Therefore should not the tops of hops 
be pinched off when the binds are very gross, and strong ? 



The naked part of the Hanger is now covered with 
thistles of various kinds. The seeds of these thistles may 
have lain probably under the thick shade of the beeches 
for many years, but could not vegetate till the sun and air 
were admitted. When old beech trees are cleared away, 
the naked ground in a year or two becomes covered with 
strawberry plants, the seeds of which must have lain in the 
ground for an age at least. One of the slidders or trenches 
down the middle of the Hanger, close covered over with 
lofty beeches near a century old, is still called strawberry 
slidder, though no strawberries have grown there in the 
memory of man. That sort of fruit did once, no doubt, 
abound there, and will again when the obstruction is 


Many horse-beans sprang up in my field-walks in the 
autumn, and are now grown to a considerable height. As 
the Ewel was in beans last summer, it is most likely that 
these seeds came from thence; but then the distance 
is too considerable for them to have been conveyed by 
mice. It is most probable therefore that they were 
brought by birds, and in particular by jays and pies, who 
seem to have hid them among the grass and moss, and then 
to have forgotten where they had stowed them. Some 
peas are growing also in the same situation, and probably 
under the same circumstances. 


If bees, who are much the best setters of cucumbers, do 
not happen to take kindly to the frames, the best way is to 
tempt them by a little honey put on the male and female 
bloom. When they are once induced to haunt the frames, 
they set all the fruit, and will hover with impatience round 


the lights in a morning, till the glasses are opened. Pro- 
batum est. 


A notion has always obtained, that in England hot 
summers are productive of fine crops of wheat ; yet in the 
years 1780 and 1781, though the heat was intense, the 
wheat was much mildewed, and the crop light. Does not 
severe heat, while the straw is milky, occasion its juices 
to exsude, which being extravasated, occasion spots, dis- 
colour the stems and blades, and injure the health of 
the plants ? 


August. A truffle-hunter called on us, having in his 
pocket several large truffles found in this neighbourhood. 
He says these roots are not to be found in deep woods, 
but in narrow hedge-rows and the skirts of coppices. 
Some truffles, he informed us, lie two feet within the 
earth, and some quite on the surface; the latter, he added, 
have little or no smell, and are not so easily discovered by 
the dogs as those that lie deeper. Half a crown a pound 
was the price which he asked for this commodity. 

Truffles never abound in wet winters and springs. 
They are in season in different situations, at least nine 
months in the year. 


Though the weather may have been ever so dry and 
burning, yet after two or three wet days, this jelly-like 
substance abounds on the walks. 


The cause, occasion, call it what you will, of fairy-rings, 
subsists in the turf, and is conveyable with it : for the turf 


of my garden-walks, brought from the down above, 
abounds with those appearances, which vary their shape, 
and shift situation continually, discovering themselves now 
in circles, now in segments, and sometimes in irregular 
patches and spots. Wherever they obtain, puff-balls 
abound ; the seeds of which were doubtless brought in 
the turf. 



NOVEMBER 22, 1768. A remarkable fall of the 
barometer all over the kingdom. At Selborne we had no 
wind, and not much rain ; only vast, swagging, rock-like 
clouds, appeared at a distance. 


The country people who are abroad in winter mornings 
long before sun-rise, talk much of hard frost in some 
spots, and none in others. The reason of these partial 
frosts is obvious, for there are at such times partial fogs 
about ; where the fog obtains, little or no frost appears : 
but where the air is clear, there it freezes hard. So the 
frost takes place either on hill or in dale, wherever the air 
happens to be clearest and freest from vapour. 


Thaws are sometimes surprisingly quick, considering 
the small quantity of rain. Does not the warmth at such 
times come from below ? The cold in still, severe seasons 
seems to come down from above : for the coming over of 
a cloud in severe nights raises the thermometer abroad at 
once full ten degrees. The first notices of thaws often 
seem to appear in vaults, cellars, etc. 



If a frost happens, even when the ground is considerably 
dry, as soon as a thaw takes place, the paths and fields are 
all in a batter. Country people say that the frost draws 
moisture. But the true philosophy is, that the steam and 
vapours continually ascending from the earth, are bound 
in by the frost, and not suffered to escape till released by 
the thaw. No wonder then that the surface is all in a 
float ; since the quantity of moisture by evaporation that 
arises daily from every acre of ground is astonishing. 


January 20. Mr. H.'s man says that he caught this day, 
in a lane near Hackwood park, many rooks, which, attempt- 
ing to fly, fell from the trees with their wings frozen 
together by the sleet, that froze as it fell. There were, he 
affirms, many dozen so disabled. 


This is a blue mist which has somewhat the smell of 
coal smoke, and as it always comes to us with a N.E. 
wind, is supposed to come from London. It has a strong 
smell, and is supposed to occasion blights. When such 
mists appear they are usually followed by dry weather. 


When people walk in a deep white fog by night with a 
lanthorn, if they will turn their backs to the light, they 
will see their shades impressed on the fog in rude gigantic 
proportions. This phenomenon seems not to have been 
attended to, but implies the great density of the meteor at 
that juncture. 


June 4, 1783. Vast honey dews this week. The 
reason of these seem to be, that in hot days the effluvia 


of flowers are drawn up by a brisk evaporation, and then 
in the night fall down with the dews with which they are 

This clammy substance is very grateful to bees, who 
gather it with great assiduity, but it is injurious to the 
trees on which it happens to fall, by stopping the pores 
of the leaves. The greatest quantity falls in still close 
weather ; because winds disperse it, and copious dews 
dilute it, and prevent its ill effects. It falls mostly in 
hazy warm weather. 


After a bright night and vast dew, the sky usually 
becomes cloudy by eleven or twelve o'clock in the fore- 
noon, and clear again toward the decline of the day. 
The reason seems to be, that the dew, drawn up by 
evaporation, occasions the clouds ; which, towards even- 
ing, being no longer rendered buoyant by the warmth of 
the sun, melt away, and fall down again in dews. If 
clouds are watched in a still warm evening, they will be 
seen to melt away, and disappear. 


No one that has not attended to such matters, and 
taken down remarks, can be aware how much ten days 
dripping weather will influence the growth of grass or 
corn after a severe dry season. This present summer, 
1776, yielded a remarkable instance ; for till the 3Oth of 
May the fields were burnt up and naked, and the barley 
not half out of the ground ; but now, June 10, there is an 
agreeable prospect of plenty. 


November I, 1787. The N. aurora made a particular 
appearance, forming itself into a broad, red, fiery belt, 


which extended from E. to W. across the welkin : but the 
moon rising at about ten o'clock, in unclouded majesty, in 
the E. put an end to this grand, but awful meteorous 


Dr. Johnson says, that "in 1771 the season was so 
severe in the island of Sky, that it is remembered by the 
name of the black spring. The snow, which seldom lies 
at all, covered the ground for eight weeks, many cattle 
died, and those that survived were so emaciated that they 
did not require the male at the usual season." The case 
was just the same with us here in the south ; never were 
so many barren cows known as in the spring following 
that dreadful period. Whole dairies missed being in calf 

At the end of March the face of the earth was naked to 
a surprising degree. Wheat hardly to be seen, and no 
signs of any grass ; turnips all gone, and sheep in a 
starving way. All provisions rising in price. Farmers 
cannot sow for want of rain. 


TH' imprison'd winds slumber within their caves 
Fast bound : the fickle vane, emblem of change, 
Wavers no more, long-settling to a point. 

All nature nodding seems compos'd ; thick steams 
From land, from flood up-drawn, dimming the day, 
"Like a dark ceiling stand " ; slow thro' the air 
Gossamer floats, or stretch'd from blade to blade 
The wavy net-work whitens all the field. 

Push'd by the weightier atmosphere, up springs 


The ponderous Mercury, from scale to scale 
Mounting, amidst the Torricellian tube. 1 

While high in air, and pois'd upon his wings 
Unseen, the soft, enamour'd wood-lark runs 
Thro' all his maze of melody ; the brake 
Loud with the black-bird's bolder note resounds. 

Sooth'd by the genial warmth, the cawing rook 
Anticipates the spring, selects her mate, 
Haunts her tall nest-trees, and with sedulous care 
Repairs her wicker eyrie, tempest torn. 

The plough-man inly smiles to see upturn 
His mellow glebe, best pledge of future crop : 
With glee the gardener eyes his smoking beds : 
E'en pining sickness feels a short relief. 

The happy school-boy brings transported forth 
His long-forgotten scourge, and giddy gig : 
O'er the white paths he whirls the rolling hoop, 
Or triumphs in the dusty field of taw. 

Not so the museful sage : abroad he walks 
Contemplative, if haply he may find 
What cause controls the tempest's rage, or whence 
Amidst the savage season winter smiles. 

For days, for weeks, prevails the placid calm. 
At length some drops prelude a change : the sun 
With ray refracted bursts the parting gloom ; 
When all the chequer'd sky is one bright glare. 

Mutters the wind at eve : th' horizon round 
With angry aspect scowls : down rush the showers, 
And float the delug'd paths, and miry fields. 

1 The Barometer. 



VO - 

N t^- OO 

u^ -^- O O t^-* ^^ ^O 
u-\ N m O N Ox *-^ 


o **"> **"> 

1-1 VO N N N -4- CO 


N* o NO 
ON >* O 

N VO <^ N T$- m 1-1 

O 1 O N vo cr^ O 1 ^ ^^ 


O "" w 

4- ' vo d 4- vo 4- N 


H- O 

vo q t>. 

N ro 4- 

l-^OO ONNO t^voNO vo 
N 4-4- O fONo'co' 


- - ON 

N O O 1 O *> -^- vo 


- O 

vo vo vo ' vo N NO vo 


N N 

^-ONNO NNO t^*^! 


f, vo N 



00 -^- 00 
00 N W 

- H-r<-iN CTxO r<^ur\ 
N tO OO N ON to t--. N 
4" O O N 4- 

g: - o 

O ON to OO Ov ^- VO VO 

t^ M M 

to^NO ^to^vovo 


t^. oo NO 

O^ O O ^^ -rj- to oo 
ro (sj i_/->, N rj i ON t^- 

N W 



Tj- Tj- N 

O O O VO l -o CO to O | 1 
vo ^- vo t^* O to to O N 





(^ CO N 

** oo t^. vo oo vo *< O *< 

^- O <^ 



vo 00 

O NOO - t^voONO ^o 





ON VO t^. 

oo -^-NO ro -^-NONO ro 



""^^^^- N 


v? 52 

TJ- oo ooo ONor^N- 

N " 1 

* * ^ 

vo'd 4--N6No'^> 



VONO t^oo ONO " N m 




1768. BEGINS with a fortnight's frost and snow; 
rainy during February. Cold and wet spring ; wet season 
from the beginning of June to the end of harvest. Latter 
end of September foggy, without rain. All October and 
the first part of November rainy; and thence to the end of 
the year alternate rains and frosts. 

1769. January and February frosty and rainy, with gleams 
of fine weather in the intervals. To the middle of March, 
wind and rain. To the end of March, dry and windy. To 
the middle of April, stormy, with rain. To the end of June, 
fine weather, with rain. To the beginning of August, 
warm, dry weather. To the end of September, rainy with 
short intervals of fine weather. To the latter end of 
October frosty mornings, with fine days. The next 
fortnight rainy ; thence to the end of November dry and 
frosty. December, windy, with rain and intervals of frost, 
and the first fortnight very foggy. 

1770. Frost for the first fortnight: during the I4th 
and 1 5th all the snow melted. To the end of February, 
mild hazy weather. The whole of March frosty, with 
bright weather. April, cloudy, with rain and snow. May 
began with summer showers, and ended with dark cold 
rains. June, rainy, chequered with gleams of sunshine. 
The first fortnight in July, dark and sultry; the latter part 
of the month, heavy rain. August, September, and the 
first fortnight in October, in general fine weather, though 
with frequent interruptions of rain : from the middle 
of October to the end of the year almost incessant 



1771. Severe frosts till the last week in January. To 
the first week" in February, rain and snow : to the end 
of February, spring weather. To the end of the third 
week in April, frosty weather. To the end of the first 
fortnight in May, spring weather, with copious showers. 
To the end of June, dry, warm weather. The first fortnight 
in July, warm, rainy weather. To the end of September, 
warm weather, but in general cloudy, with showers. 
October, rainy. November, frost, with intervals of fog 
and rain. December, in general bright, mild weather, with 
hoar frosts. 

1772. To the end of the first week in February, frost 
and snow. To the end of the first fortnight in March, 
frost, sleet, rain and snow. To the middle of April, cold 
rains. To the middle of May, dry weather, with cold 
piercing winds. To the end of the first week in June, 
cold showers. To the middle of August, hot dry summer 
weather. To the end of September, rain with storms 
and thunders. To December 22, rain with mild weather. 
December 23, the first ice. To the end of the month, 
cold foggy weather. 

1773. The first week in January, frost; thence to the 
end of the month, dark rainy weather. The first fortnight 
in February, hard frost. To the end of the first week in 
March, misty, showery weather. Bright spring days to 
the close of the month. Frequent showers to the latter 
end of April. To the end of June, warm showers, with 
intervals of sunshine. To the end of August, dry weather, 
with a few days of rain. To the end of the first fortnight 
in November, rainy. The next four weeks, frost : and 
thence to the end of the year, rainy. 

1774. Frost and rain to the end of the first fortnight 
in March : thence to the end of the month, dry weather. 
To the 1 5th of April, showers ; thence to the end of 
April, fine spring days. During May, showers and sun- 
shine in about an equal proportion. Dark rainy weather 
to the end of the 3d week in July : thence to the 24th of 
August, sultry, with thunder and occasional showers. 
To the end of the 3d week in November, rain, with 


frequent intervals ot sunny weather. To the end of 
December, dark dripping fogs. 

1775. To the end of the first fortnight in March, rain 
almost every day. To the first week in April, cold 
winds, with showers of rain and snow. To the end of 
June, warm, bright weather, with frequent showers. The 
first fortnight in July, almost incessant rains. To the 
26th August, sultry weather, with frequent showers. To 
the end of the third week in September, rain, with a few 
intervals of fine weather. To the end of the year, rain, 
with intervals of hoar-frost and sunshine. 

1776. To January 24, dark frosty weather, with much 
snow. March 24, to the end of the month, foggy, with 
hoar-frost. To the 3<Dth of May, dark, dry harsh 
weather, with cold winds. To the end of the first 
fortnight in July, warm, with much rain. To the end of 
the first week in August, hot and dry, with intervals of 
thunder showers. To the end of October, in general fine 
seasonable weather, with a considerable proportion of rain. 
To the end of the year, dry, frosty weather, with some 
days of hard rain. 

1777. To the loth of January, hard frost. To the 
2Oth of January, foggy, with frequent showers. To 
the 1 8th of February, hard dry frost with snow. To 
the end of May, heavy showers, with intervals of warm 
dry spring days. To the 8th July, dark, with heavy 
rain. To the i8th July, dry warm weather. To the 
end of July, very heavy rains. To the I2th October, 
remarkably fine warm weather. To the end of the year, 
grey mild weather, with but little rain, and still less 

1778. To the 1 3th of January, frost, with a little snow; 
to the 24th January, rain : to the 3Oth, hard frost. To 
the 23rd February, dark, harsh, foggy weather, with rain. 
To the end of the month, hard frost, with snow. To the 
end of the first fortnight in March, dark, harsh weather. 
From the first, to the end of the first fortnight in April, 
spring weather. To the end of the month, snow and ice. 
To the 1 1 th of June, cool, with heavy showers. To the 


1 9th July, hot, sultry, parching weather. To the end 
of the month, heavy showers. To the end of September, 
dry warm weather. To the end of the year, wet, with 
considerable intervals of sunshine. 

1779. Frost and showers to the end of January. To 
2ist April, warm dry weather. To 8th May, rainy. 
To the 7th June, dry and warm. To the 6th July, hot 
weather, with frequent rain. To the i8th July, dry hot 
weather. To August 8, hot weather, with frequent rains. 
To the end of August, fine dry harvest weather. To the 
end of November, fine autumnal weather, with intervals 
of rain. To the end of the year, rain with frost and 

1780. To the end of January, frost. To the end of 
February, dark, harsh weather, with frequent intervals 
of frost. To the end of March, warm showery spring 
weather. To the end of April, dark harsh weather, with 
rain and frost. To the end of the first fortnight in May, 
mild, with rain. To the end of August, rain and fair 
weather in pretty equal proportions. To the end of 
October, fine autumnal weather, with intervals of rain. 
To the 24th of November frost. To December 16, 
mild, dry foggy weather. To the end of the year, frost 
and snow. 

1781. To January 25, frost and snow. To the end of 
February, harsh and windy with rain and snow. To 
April 5, cold drying winds. To the end of May, mild 
spring weather, with a few light showers. June began 
with heavy rain, but thence to the end of October, dry 
weather, with a few flying showers. To the end of the 
year, open weather with frequent rains. 

1782. To February 4, open mild weather. To 
February 22, hard frost. To the end of March, cold 
blowing weather, with frost and snow and rain. To 
May 7, cold dark rains. To the end of May, mild with 
incessant rains. To the end of June, warm and dry. To 
the end of August, warm, with almost perpetual rains. 
The first fortnight in September, mild and dry ; thence to 
the end of the month, rain. To the end of October, 


mild with frequent showers. November began with hard 
frost, and continued throughout with alternate frost 
and thaw. The first part of December frosty ; the latter 
part mild. 

1783. To January 16, rainy with heavy winds. To 
the 24th, hard frost. To the end of the first fortnight in 
February, blowing, with much rain. To the end of 
February, stormy dripping weather. To the 9th of May, 
cold harsh winds (thick ice on 5th of May). To the end 
of August, hot weather, with frequent showers. To the 
23d September, mild, with heavy driving rains. To 
November 12, dry, mild weather. To the i8th December, 
grey soft weather, with a few showers. To the end of the 
year, hard frost. 

1784. To February 19, hard frost, with two thaws; 
one the I4th January, the other 5th February. To February 
28, mild wet fogs. To the 3d March, frost with ice. To 
March 10, sleet and snow. To April 2, snow and hard 
frost. To April 27, mild weather with much rain. To 
May 12, cold drying winds. To May 20, hot cloudless 
weather. To June 27, warm with frequent showers. 
To July 1 8, hot and dry. To the end of August, warm 
with heavy rains. To November 6, clear mild 
autumnal weather, except a few days of rain at the 
latter end of September. To the end of the year, fog, 
rain, and hard frost (on December 10, the therm, i deg. 
below o). 

1785. A thaw began on the 2d January, and rainy 
weather, with wind continued to January 28. To I5th 
March, very hard frost. To 2ist March, mild with 
sprinkling showers. To April 7, hard frost. To May 17, 
mild windy weather, without a drop of rain. To the end 
of May, cold with a few showers. To June 9, mild 
weather, with frequent soft showers. To July 13, hot dry 
weather, with a few showery intervals. To July 22, heavy 
rain. To the end of September, warm with frequent 
showers. To the end of October, frequent rain. To i8th 
of November, dry, mild weather. (Hay-making finished 
November 9, and the wheat harvest November 14.) 


To December 23, rain. To the end of the year, hard 

1786. To the 7th January, frost and snow. To January 
13, mild with much rain. To 2ist January, deep snow. 
To February u, mild with frequent rains. To 2ist 
February, dry, with high winds. To loth March, hard 
frost. To 1 3th April, wet, with intervals of frost. To 
the end of April, dry mild weather. On the ist and 2d 
May, thick ice. To loth May, heavy rain. To June 14, 
fine warm dry weather. From the 8th to the nth July, 
heavy showers. To October 13, warm, with frequent 
showers. To October 19, ice. To October 24, mild 
pleasant weather. To November 3, frost. To December 
1 6, rain, with a few detached days of frost. To the end of 
the year, frost and snow. 

1787. To January 24, dark, moist, mild weather. To 
January 28, frost and snow. To February 16, mild 
showery weather. To February 28, dry, cool weather. 
To March 10, stormy, with driving rain. To March 24, 
bright frosty weather. To the end of April, mild, with 
frequent rain. To May 22, fine bright weather. To the 
end of June, mostly warm, with frequent showers (on June 
7, ice as thick as a crown piece). To the end of July, hot 
and sultry, with copious rain. To the end of September, 
hot dry weather, with occasional showers. To November 
23, mild, with light frosts and rain. To the end of 
November, hard frost. To December 21, still and mild, 
with rain. To the end of the year, frost. 

1788. To January 13, mild and wet. To January 18, 
frost. To the end of the month, dry windy weather. To 
the end of February, frosty, with frequent showers. To 
March 14, hard frost. To the end of March, dark, harsh 
weather, with frequent showers. To April 4, windy, with 
showers. To the end of May, bright, dry, warm weather, 
with a few occasional showers. From June 28 to July 17, 
heavy rains. To August 12, hot dry weather. To the 
end of September, alternate showers and sunshine. To 
November 22, dry, cool weather. To the end of the year, 
hard frost. 


1789. To January 13, hard frost. To the end of the 
month, mild, with showers. To the end of February, 
frequent rain, with snow-showers and heavy gales of wind. 
To 1 3th March, hard frost, with snow. To April 18, 
heavy rain, with frost and snow and sleet. To the end of 
April, dark cold weather, with frequent rains. To June 
9, warm spring weather, with brisk winds and frequent 
showers. From June 4 to the end of July, warm, with 
much rain. To August 29, hot, dry, sultry weather. To 
September 1 1 , mild, with frequent showers. To the end 
of September, fine autumnal weather, with occasional 
showers. To November 17, heavy rain, with violent 
gales of wind. To December 18, mild dry weather, 
with a few showers. To the end of the year, rain and 

1790. To January 16, mild foggy weather, with occa- 
sional rains. To January 21, frost. To January 28, 
dark, with driving rains. To February 14, mild, dry 
weather. To February 22, hard frost. To April 5, 
bright, cold weather, with a few showers. To April 15, 
dark and harsh, with a deep snow. To April 21, cold 
cloudy weather, with ice. To June 6, mild spring weather, 
with much rain. From July 3, to July 14, cool, with 
heavy rain. To the end of July, warm, dry weather. To 
August 6, cold, with wind and rain. To August 24, fine 
harvest weather. To September 5, strong gales, with 
driving showers. To November 26, mild autumnal 
weather, with frequent showers. To December i, hard 
frost and snow. To the end of the year, rain and snow, 
and a few days of frost. 

1791. To the end of January, mild, with heavy rains. 
To the end of February, windy, with much rain and snow. 
From March to the end of June, mostly dry, especially 
June. March and April rather cold and frosty. May and 
June, hot. July, rainy. Fine harvest weather, and pretty 
dry, to the end of September. Wet October, and cold 
towards the end. Very wet and stormy in November. 
Much frost in December. 

1792. Some hard frost in January, but mostly wet and 


mild. February, some hard frost and a little snow, 
March, wet and cold. April, great storms on the I3th, 
then some very warm weather. May and June, cold and 
dry. July, wet and cool ; indifferent harvest, rather late 
and wet. September, windy and wet. October, showery 
and mild. November, dry and fine. December, mild . 


Aberdavines, 1 18. 

Acclimatizing plants and animals, 


Aenanthus (see Wheatear). 
Aenas (see Woodpigeon). 
Affection among animals, 130, 149, 


Africa, migration of birds to, 77. 
Air, elastic at midnight, 192. 
Alauda pratensis, rearing young 

cuckoo, 1 1 6, 123. 
Alice Holt Forest, 23, 290; fallow 

deer in, 20, 24 ; leased by the 

Crown, 23 ; soil of, 24; timber 

in, 25. 
Alton, hollow lane leading to, 1 1 ; 

manufactures of, 15. 
American animals, origin of, 60 ; 

junipers, 243. 
Amphibious animals, 72. 
Anathoth, an, 194, 239. 
Ancient burying-ground, 351. 
Andalusia, birds of, 66, 123 ; stone 

curlew in, 78. 
Anguilla (see Eel). 
Anguis fragilis (see Blind Worm). 
Animals eating their young, 132. 
Anne, Queen, in Wolmer Forest, 


Antelope, double nostril of, 37. 
Antipathy of birds and animals to 

their young, 132, 196. 
'AvruTTopyrj of birds, 196. 
Ants, 433. 
Aphides (smother flies), shower of, 

226, 251. 

April, remarkably inclement, 113. 

Aquaria for fishes, 228. 

Aquatic plants, 199. 

Arum, the cuckoo pint, 39 ; thrush 
feeding on the roots of, 39. 

Arun, River, the, 5. 

Ash tree, 439 ; superstitions con- 
cerning, 174. 

Ashford, last Prior of Selborne, 330. 

Ash-shrew, 174. 

Asses ploughing, 162. 

August, the mute month, 88. 

Augustine Canons, 280. 

Auk, little, 86. 

Aurora Borealis, 447. 

Bacon-fly, 79. 

Bank-martin (see Sand martin). 
Bank-swallow (see Sand martin). 
Baptist, St. John, the little finger 

of, 318. 

Barometers, 240, 445. 
Barragons, manufacture of, 15. 
Batfowlers, catching birds, 68. 
Bats, 30, 420 ; appearance of, in 

warm weather, 187, 419 ; hyber- 

nation of, 419 ; tame, 30 ; food 

of, 30; drink flying, 30; little, 66; 

breeding of, 8 1 ; anatomy of, 8 1 . 
Bat, great, new species of, 56 ; food 

of, 67. 

Bean's pond, 21. 
Bears in Hampshire, 259. 
Beasts and birds, taming of, 54. 
Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, 

311; register of, 311. 


4 62 


Bees, drink flying, 86 ; Virgil's, 
193; and idiot boy, 172; swarm- 
ing in hot weather, 1 86 ; injured 
by echoes, 193 ; insensible to 
sound, 194; injured by heat 
and cold, 242 ; eating honey 
dew, 251 ; kill drones, 400 ; 
wild, 430; cucumbers set by, 442. 

Bee bird, 121. 

Beech, the, 3. 

Beetles, 161. 

Belfry of Selborne Church, 269. 

Bells in Selborne Church, 269. 

Berne, Canon, Prior of Selborne, 
326; provision for, 330. 

Bilberry, creeping or Cranberry, 

Bin's pond, 21; parsonage, 274. 

Binsted parish, 25. 

Birds, beans sown by, 442 ; 
without English names, 27, 
219 ; influence by colour in 
choice of food, 407 ; of passage, 
407 ; settling on ships at sea, 
35; colour of, influenced by 
food, 39, 86; turning black, 39; 
of summer passage, 42, 76, 
100, 103, 117, 121, 143; in- 
stinct of, 109, 131, 149, 231 ; 
soft-billed (non-migratory), I o I ; 
of winter passage, 102, 103 ; 
wintering in England, 102 ; 
singing after midsummer, 103, 
104, 1 10 ; motions of, 1 14, 202, 
414: singing, are all Passeres, 
105; in full song till midsum- 
mer, 104; that sing in the 
spring, 105; with slight notes, 
105; which sing flying, 106; 
with a song, 106; some tame, 
others shy, 106; breeding early, 
1 06; in Ascension Island, 106; 
of Andalusia, 66, 78, 123; sing- 
ing during incubation, 107; 
fatten in frosts, 1 1 1 ; pairing 
of, 71 ; migration of, influenced 
by the weather, 71, 113; food 
of, 412; colour of, changing 

at breeding time, 114; thick- 
billed, 113; transport of, on 
board ship, 73 ; collections of, 
contain few soft-billed birds, 
73; washing, 116; that dust do 
not wash, 116; which are pul- 
veratrices, 115; migration of, to 
Africa, 77; of prey, 121, 413; 
migration of, over the sea, 121; 
swarms of different varieties, 126; 
sing in spring and autumn, 88 ; 
drinking, 89; growth of, 161; 
congregating, 166; dispersion 
of, 196; destroyed while migrat- 
ing, 196; notes and language of, 

Bird's-nest ophrys, 200, 394. 

Black act, the, 18. 

Blackbird, 39; killed by frost, 

Blackcap, 27, 29, 90, 108, 143 ; 
arrival of, 407 ; food of, 90 ; 
note of, 90. 

Black dolphin, 79. 

Black canons, 280. 

Black game at Selborne, 17. 

Blackmoor farm, 416 ; curious 
custom at, 20. 

Blackthorn, 440. 

Blatta Orientalis (cockroach), 427. 

Blindworm, 45. 

Blossoming of plants, 201. 

Blue rag, 10. 

Boars, wild, in Wolmer Forest, 

Boars, fierce, tamed by losing their 
tusks, 1 8 1. 

Bogs in Wolmer Forest, 15, 237. 

Bombylius medius, 391, 432. 

Booby, the, 107. 

Botany, its utility, 197. 

Botfly, horse, 79. 

Boy bee-eater, 172. 

Brambling, greater, 65, 388. 

Breathing of deer, 37; goats, 38. 

Brighton, fall of cliffs at, 26; bus- 
tards at, 1 1 7. 

Brimstone Lodge, 20. 



Bristowe, D., Vicar of Selborne, 

bequests of, 277. 

Brooks and springs at Selborne, 22. 
Buck, head of, 51. 
Buffalo, wild, in Wolmer Forest, 


Bug, harvest, 78. 
Bullfinch, turning black, 39, 86. 
Bullhead, 29. 
Buntings, 35, 117. 
Burning the heath, 20. 
Burnt wood-ashes as manure, 19. 
Bustards, 1 07, 1 1 7 ; similar to stone 

curlew, 78 ; at Brighton, 117. 
Butcher bird, great ash-coloured, 

85 ; red-backed, 50, 85. 
B uteo apivorus or vespivorus (see 

Honey buzzard). 
Buzzard, common, 95. 
Buzzard, honey, 94, 144. 
Byfields Charity, 275. 

Caddis fly, 158, 395. 

Calculus from stomach of ox, 80. 

Calendar, naturalists', 386. 

Call of birds, 204. 

Canaries, naturalized, 32. 

Cancer cured by toads, 47. 

Cane (see Weasel). 

Capons, 181. 

Caprimulgus (see Goat-sucker). 

Carniola, birds of, 74, 113. 

Carp, 22, 228 ; tame, 89; in severe 
weather, 89. 

Castration, 181. 

Cats, 183; fond of fish, 72; catch- 
ing swifts on the wing, 161; 
suckling a leveret, 183; suck- 
ling a squirrel, 423; eating 
crickets, 216; electric, 249 ; re- 
trieving birds, 409. 

Cattle frequenting the water, 22; 
injured by eating yew, 272. 

Chafers destroying foliage of trees, 
124, 426; fern, 82, 89, 426. 

Chaffinch, 34, 39 ; separation of 
sexes, 34, 86, 118; food of, 

Chaffinches, hen, flock of, 34, 1 18; 
migration of, 34. 

Chalkhills, beautiful, 142. 

Chantry, what is a, 299. 

Chapelfield, 287, 342. 

Charadrius himantopus (stilt plover ?), 
219; oedicnemus (see Stone-cur- 

Chaucer, 316. 

Chiff-chaff, 233, 415. 

" Chinky-chank " (see Chiff-chaff). 

Chimney swallow (see Swallow, 

Chinese dogs, 235. 

Chlora perfoliata (see Yellow- wort). 

Choughs, Cornish, 85, 117. 

ChtysGrnela oleracea (see Turnip-fly). 

Church at Selborne, 263, 265 ; 
exterior of, 269; built out of 
the eastward position, 270. 

Churches, scarcity of, in Sussex, 54. 

Churchyards, 270; trees in, 271 ; 
origin of, 272. 

Churn owls (see Fern owls). 

Churr worm (see Mole cricket). 

Chrysosplenium oppositifolium (see Op- 
posite Golden Saxifrage). 

Cimex Linearis, 428. 

Clay's pond, fossils at, 8. 

Clock made by General Howe, 24. 

Cobwebs, shower of, 164. 

Coccus vitis viniferae, 224. 

Coins found in Wolmer pond, 23, 

Cold injurious to vegetation, 240. 

Colour influencing birds' choice of 
food, 407 ; of birds influenced 
by food, 39; of birds in pairing 
time, 114. 

Columba livia (blue rock pigeon), 

Coluber natrix (English snake), 46, 

39 1 - 
Colymbus glacialis (see Diver, or 

Comarum palustrae (Marsh cinque 

foil), 200. 
Comarum (purple), 200. 

4 6 4 


Comb, kept for the use of hinds, 

Conduit wood, 341. 

Cornish choughs, 85, 117. 

Corn mill at Selborne, 343. 

Cornua Ammonis, 8. 

Corrodies, meaning of, 307. 

Corvus monedula (see Jackdaw). 

Country-made candles, 1 69. 

Cows congregating, 166. 

Cranberry, 199. 

Cranmer lake, 22. 

Cressi Hall heronry, 55, 57. 

Cricket, eggs of, 212 ; field 212, 
389 ; sex of, 2 1 3 ; wings of, 2 1 3, 
216; chirping of, 212, 214; 
fen (see Cricket, mole) ; mole, 
2 1 7 j house, 215; tame, 215; 
food of, 216; habits of, 216; 
to destroy, 216; nest and eggs 
of, 2 1 8 ; chewing the cud, 218; 
cry of, 2 1 6. 

Crocus (Sativus crocus), spring and 
autumnal, 201. 

Cross bills, 29, 116, 144. 

Cyprinus auratus (gold fish), 228. 

Crow, 85 ; grey or hooded, 89. 

Cuckoo, 109; choosing a nest, 109; 
eggs of, no, ni; skimming 
flight of, 1 1 6 ; food of, 1 1 6, 
123; in nest of tit-lark, 116; 
reared by Alauda pratensis, 123; 
sings in different keys, 124 ; 
when it sings, hawks do not 
prey on other birds, 162 ; ana- 
tomy, 178 ; why it does not 
hatch eggs, 178. 

Cuckoo, pint, the, 39. 

Cucumbers, set by bees, 442. 

Curlew, stone (see Stone curlew). 

Daker-hen (see Landrail). 

Danewort 201. 

Daphne laureola (springe laurel) 

Mezereum (Mezereon), 200. 
Daw (see Jackdaw). 
Daws, breeding places of, 52. 
Deafness of Gilbert White, 163. 

Decay of Selborne Priory, 320. 
Deeds dated on Sunday, 300. 
Deer, fallow (see Fallow deer) ; 

moose (see Moose deer) ; red 

(see Red deer) ; hunting, 1 8 ; 

killing a dog, 19. 
Deer, breathing spiracula of, 37 ; 

stealers, 18, 24. 
Desecration of Communion Tables, 


Destruction of martins, 1 40. 
Destructive frosts, 36, 240, 244, 


Dew collected by trees, 175. 
Dipsacus pilosus (Small teasel), 200. 
Disease in cattle, caused by Oestrus 

bovis, 416. 

Diver or loon, 413 ; gait of, 415. 
Doe, brought up with cows, 167 ; 

tame, chased by dogs, 167. 
Dogs, killed by deer, 19; blinded 

by cobwebs, 164; Chinese, 235; 

of South America dumb, 235 ; 

ears of, 235 ; fed on vegetables, 

235 ; refusing to eat birds that 

they hunt, 236. 
Dove-ring (see Ring-dove); Stock 

(see Stock-dove). 

Dover burnt by the French, 292. 
Dove, stock, 96 ; house, 96 ; de- 
rived from blue rock pigeon, 96 ; 

ring, reared by pigeons, 98 ; and 

pigeons, cross between, 98 ; 

house at Selborne Priory, 343. 
Downs, South, 141 ; sheep on the, 


Dragonfly, 116, 154. 
Dress of Canons in 1387, protest 

of Bishop Wykeham against, 

Drinking, mode of, in deer and 

horses, 37. 
Drosera rotundifolia (round-leaved 

sundew), 200 ; /ongifo/ia, 200. 
Ducks, wild, 23, 29; King of 

Denmark's, found in England, 


Dung of cattle, food for fish, 22. 



Eagle, migration of, 121. 

Early-breeding birds, 106. 

Earthquakes in Sicily, 252. 

Earthworms, 184, 434. 

Eastwick, 107. 

Echoes, 191, 194, 239; described 
by Ovid, 191 ; rules of, 193 ; 
described by Virgil, 193 ; in- 
jurious to bees, 193 ; destroyed 
by intervening objects, 194; a 
place of, 194, 239; to make, 
1 94 ; described by Lucretius, 

Edward II. in Wolmer Forest, 263. 

Edward III. in Wolmer Forest, 262. 

Eels, 22, 29; breeding of, 43, 88 ; 
two species of, 88. 

Eft, 45 ; water, 48 ; larva of land- 
eft, 45. 

Eggs, in larvae of insects, 48. 

Elder, dwarf, 201. 

Electricity, 255. 

Elk, European, 70. 

Elmer, Mr. 24. 

Elms, broad-leaved or wych hazel, 
large, 6. 

Emberiza alba (bunting), 387, 390, 

Emberiza miliaria (bunting), 35. 

Emberiza nivalis (snowflake), 39, 65. 

Empedes (long-legs), 433. 

Entomology, 56, 80. 

Ephemera (mayflies), 158. 

Eunuchs, 181. 

Euonymus Europaeus (spindle tree), 
89, 396. 

Eve-churr (see Mole-cricket). 

Evejar (see Fern-owl). 

Eyes and ears, large, uses of, 135. 

Fair at Selborne, 288, 350. 

Fairy rings, 443. 

Falcons, 28, 31, 234. 

Falco peregrinus (haggard falcon), 

31, 234- 

Fallow-deer, in Holt Forest, 24 ; 
never seen in Wolmer Forest, 
24 ; head of, spiracula in, 37. 

Fattening of animals during frost, 
I II. 

Faustina, Empress, 260. 

February, called " sprout-cale " by 
the Saxons, 190. 

Fellwort, 200. 

Fens of Lincolnshire, the, 55. 

Fern-chafers, 82, 89, 416, 426. 

Fern-owl (see Goatsucker). 

Field-cricket (see Cricket, field). 

Fieldfares, 26, 63, 65, 68 ; feeding 
in winter, 65, 119; not breed- 
ing in England, 407; roost on 
the ground, 68. 

Field-mouse, 27, 31, 40; and 
young, 132 ; eating nuts, 231. 

Fish, shell, petrified, 8 ; at Sel- 
borne, 22, 29; dead, why they 
float, 227 ; gold, 227 ; silver, 
227; food of, 227; bowls of, 
with birds inside, 228; ponds, 


Flamingo, 219. 

Fleas, 153,389. 

Flies, plague of, 252. 

Flight of birds, 1 50, 202, 203 ; 
crickets, 216. 

Floods in 1764, 150; 1784, 254. 

Flora of Selborne, 199. 

Fly, turnip, 79 ; depositing eggs 
in hairs of horses, 79 ; horse bot 
(see horse-fly) ; forest, 135; side, 

Flycatcher, 27, 29, 41, 131 ; arrival 
of, 407 ; nidification of, 90 ; 
note of, 90. 

Fogs, 175, 178; smoky, 252; re- 
flection of, 446. 

Food of titlark, 407 ; of soft-billed 
birds, 73, 91, 92; birds guided 
by colour in choice of, 407; of 
birds, 1 1 8 ; of man, various, 197. 

Forest-flies, 135, 394. 

Forests, services rendered by, 19 ; 
effects of on the weather, 1 76 ; 
royal, origin of, 262. 

Fossils at Selborne, 8; wood, 1 6, 
237; oak, 237. 

4 66 


Fowls, wild, in Wolmer Forest, 1 6. 
Foxes in Wolmer Forest, 21. 
Freestone, analogous to chalk, 4 ; 

grows shaky wood, 5 ; its uses, 9. 
French naturalists, 72. 
Fringilla (hard-billed), 92 ; caelebi 

(see Chaffinch). 
Frogs, 43 ; breeding of, 44 ; swarm 

of, cause of, 44 ; migrating of, 44. 
Frosts, lying longer on bog oaks, 

16; severe, 36, 240, 244, 246; 

birds fattening during, ill; 

effects of, on animals, 1 1 1 ; effect 

of, on birds, 1 1 1 ; partial, 445. 
Fruit crop, 163. 

Gallinae, walk of, 203; roost high, 

Gallows Hill, 350. 

Gardening among the Saxons, 190. 

Garlands, in churches in honour of 
virgins, 264. 

Garrulus Bohemicus (German silk- 
tail), 32. 

Gassendus, quotation from, on 
music, 232. 

Gasierosferus pungitius (see Stickle- 
back) ; aculeatus (see Stickleback). 

Gentian, 200. 

Gentiana amarilla (gentian or fell- 
work), 200. 

Geology of Selborne, 4, 8, 9. 

German-boars, 25 ; silk-tail, 32. 

Gibraltar, migration of birds to, 

Gill covers of Mud Iguana, 45. 

Gipsies, language of, 1 68. 

Gizzard of landrail, 411 ; of birds, 

Glow-worm, 62, 434. 

Gnats on the snow, 407. 

Goats breathing through their ears, 


Goatsucker, 55, 82, 112, 415, 
417; food of, 416; does not in- 
jure cattle, 416; egg of, 417; 
feeding by means of its foot, 82 ; 
anatomy of, 179. 



Goldfinch, 1 10. 
Goldfish, 227. 

Gold-crested wren (see Wren). 
Golden thrushes, 121. 
Golden maiden-hair, brush of, 

Gossamer, a shower of, 1 64 ; origin 

of, 165. 

Gracious street, 350. 
Grallae, legs of, 69; food of, 125. 
Graminivorous birds eating vege- 
tables, 412. 
Grange, the, 349. 
Grass, uses of, 198. 
Grasshopper, 213; lark, 41, 49, 

60, 87. 

Gravel in birds' crops, 412. 
Graves under trees, 273. 
Great Britain, birds of, 91. 
Greatham farm, 19, 21. 
Green lizard, 46, 54. 
Gregarious habits of horses and 

cows, 1 66. 

Grosbeak, 29; food of, 421. 
Gryllus campestris (field-cricket), 

393; domesticus (house-cricket), 

215, 428; Gryllus gryllo talpa 

(mole-cricket), 392. 
Guernsey lizard, 57. 
Gurdon, Sir Adam, 284; marriage 

of, 285; rebellion of, 291; 

menace against the English 

language, 292 ; death of, 293 ; 

seal of, 293. 

Haggard falcon, 234. 
Hailstorm at Selborne, 254. 
Hampton Bridge, 7. 
Hanger, the, 4, 12, 442. 
Hares, 12, 244; white, 65. 
Harvest mouse (see Mouse, harvest); 

bug, 78. 

Hawkley hanger, 2 1 o. 
Hawk, sparrow, strange, 28 ; blue, 

412; ringtail, anatomy of, 179; 

destroyed by poultry, 207. 



Hawks, 28 ; casting up feathers, 
29 ; migration of, 1 2 1 ; do not 
prey while cuckoo is heard, 162. 

Haws, a food for birds, 32; failure 
of, 32. 

Haze, or smoky fog, 252. 

Hazel wych, 6. 

Heat, intense, 250; spoiling fruit, 
250; effects of, on hybernating 
animals, 186. 

Heathcock, formerly plentiful, 17. 

Heathfires, 20. 

Hedgehog, 67; food of, 67; spines 
of, 68 ; young of, 67. 

Hedge-sparrow and the cuckoo, 
1 1 1. 

Heliotropes, summer and winter, 

Helleborus foetidus (stinking helle- 
bore), 199, 387; vlridis (green 
hellebore), 199, 388; niger, 201, 
388 ; hellebores, order of bloom- 
ing, 20 1 ; hy emails, 201, 388. 

Helleborine, 200, 395. 

Hempseed for birds, 39, 86. 

Hen harrier, 88, 412. 

Hen and horse, friendship of, 167 ; 
and ducklings, 423. 

Hen, common, 206. 

Henry III. grants lands to Selborne 
Prior)', 281. 

Heronry at Cressi Hall, 55, 57. 

Hills and mountains, moving, 209 ; 
attracting clouds, 253. 

Himantopus, 219, 220. 

Hippoboscae hirundlnis, 135, 223. 

Hirundo hyberna, 75; rupestris, 75 ; 
alpina, 77 ; melba, 77 ; esculenta, 
151; riparia, 151 (see also 
Swallow, Martin, and Swift). 

Hogmer, lake, 22. 

Hogs, age of, 182. 

Hollow lane leading to Alton, 1 1. 

Holt Forest, 19, 21,23; ironstone 
in, 10; deer in, 18, 24. 

Holy Ghost Chapel, Basingstoke, 
destruction of, 348. 

Home-made candles, 169. 

Honey-buzzard, 94, 408. 
Honey-dew, 251, 446. 
Hoopoe, 29. 

Hoopoes at Selborne, 29 ; migra- 
tion of, 121. 
Hops, 441 ; suitable soil for, 5 ; 

at Selborne, 14, 163. 
Hornets, 431. 

Horns at Lord Pembroke's, 73. 
Horse, botfly, 79 ; and hen, 400, 

431 ; friendship between, 167; 

should not be kept in solitude, 

1 66; anecdote of, 423. 
Holticulture, spread of, 190. 
House martins (see Martins, 

house); swallow (see Swallow, 

Howe, General, machinery made 

by, 24. 

Humming in the air, 426. 
Hunger, power of, 1 1 8, 126. 
Hunting condemned by Bishop 

Wykeham, 306. 
Hybernation of swallow, 26; swift, 

Hypericum androsaemum (Tutsan, or 

St. John's wort), 200. 

Ichneumon fly, 432. 

Icthyology, 53. 

Icy speculae in the air, 249. 

Idiot boy and bees, 172. 

Incongruous companions, 127. 

Incubation of birds, ill. 

Indian grass, 56. 

Insectivorous birds, 408. 

Insect pests, 78, 79 ; appearing in 
hot weather, 186; insensible to 
sound, 194; hybernation of, 
215; life of, 214; diffusion of, 
225, 226; appearing in frosts, 

Insects, 425. 

Instinct, 61, 131-2, 149, 231; ot 
young animals, 180. 

Inundations rendering land poor, 

Ireland and its natural history, 93. 



Ironstone in Holt Forest, 10. 
Italy, climate of, 1 12. 
Ivy berries, 441. 

Jackdaws, 52; building on the 

ground, 52, 54. 
Jamaica, birds of, 115. 
Jar bird (see Goatsucker). 
Jealousy in birds, 127. 
Johnson, Dr. Samuel, 448. 
July, alleged decrease of birds in, 

Juncus conglomerates (common rush), 

Junipers, American, 243. 

Kestrel, 88. 

Kings-field, echo in, 192. 

Kingsley parish, 24, 25. 

Kite, eating ants' eggs, 408 ; 

migration of, 121, 144. 
Knights Templars, Order of, 266 ; 

property belonging to, at Sel- 

borne, 294. 

Lacerta, 45, 392 ; green, 46. 

Ladies' traces, 200, 402. 

Lakes near Selborne, 21 ; in Wol- 

mer, 22. 
Lampern, 29. 

Landrail, 12, 41 1 ; food of, 41 1. 
Landslips, 210. 
Land-springs, 150. 
Land tortoise (see Tortoise). 
Lanes at Selborne, n, abound in 

Filices, 12. 
Lanius minor, 64 ; Collurio (see 


Lapwing, 1 6 ; movements of, 86. 
Larks, 144; sky, feeding in winter, 

407 ; white, 39 ; grasshopper, 

41, 49, 59, 87; wood, 104, 

no; dusting and washing, 123. 
Late springs, 1 24. 
Lathroea squammaria (tooth-wort), 

200, 393. 

Lathyrus syk'estris, 200. 
Laurel spurge, 200, 391. 

Leaves of trees, 176 ; renovation 

of. 439- 

Legge, Henry Bilson, 24. 
Legs, length of, in small birds, 219. 
Lemna (duck's meat weed), 228. 
Leprosy, 187. 
Leveret and cat, friendship of, 

Libellulae (dragon-fly), 116, 154, 

Lice, of birds, 135 ; martins, 140; 

swallows, eggs of, 136. 
Lime, blossoms of, 440. 
Linen clothing, advantage of, 189. 
Linnaean system, the, 63, 88, 101, 


Linnet, 34, 1 10. 

Lions following jackals, 127. 

Lithe, the short, 212. 

Liveries, meaning of, 307. 

Lizard, green, 46, 54 ; black, found 
in a well, 5 1 ; Guernsey, turned 
out at Pembroke College, Ox- 
ford, 57. 

Loach, 47. 

Loaches from Ambresbury, 47. 

Locusta, 41. 

Locustella, 60. 

Long-billed birds fattening during 
frosts, in. 

Longspee, Ela, 299. 

Longworth, J., Vicar of Selborne, 

Loon, or spotted diver, 413. 

Lop and top, 25. 

Loripes, 219. 

Losel's wood, 6. 

Love in birds, 1 18. 

Loxia coccothraustes (see Grosbeak) ; 
curvirostra (see Crossbill). 

Lycoperdon tuber (truffle), 201, 397. 

Magdalen College, Oxford, land 
belonging to, at Selborne, 289, 
351; patron of living of Sel- 
borne, 273 ; founded, 333 ; court 
leet of, held at Selborne, 349. 

Maggots in cattle, 416. 



Magpie and missel thrush, fight 
between, 163. 

Mahommedans dusting themselves, 

Maiden hair fern, 171. 

Malm, black and white, 4. 

Manor house at Selborne, 286. 

Marcley Hill said to have moved, 

Market at Selborne, 288, 350. 

Marsh cinquefoil 200, 399. 

Martins, young, appearance of, 26 ; 
late, 26, 53; house, 26, 29, 71, 
75, 136, 152; sand, 151, 418; 
frequenting water, 419; late 
breeding of, 29, 33, 83, 86, 89, 
140; migration of, 82 ; food of, 
154; parasites of, 153; hyber- 
nating of, 83, 187, 222, 230; 
nest of, 137, 139; down on legs 
of, 140; colour of, 150; sand 
and house, feed young on the 
wing, 75; nest of, 155, 418; 
washing as they fly, 155; do 
not sing, 154; flight of, 154; 
abundance of, 154; appearance 
of, 187. 

Martlet (see House martin). 

Masses for the dead in Selborne 
Church, 299. 

May-fly, 158, 395, 429. 

Memory, comparing animals by, 75. 

Merops apiaster (beebird), 121. 

Merula torquata (see Ring ouzel). 

Meteors, 252. 

Mezereon, 200, 387, 403. 

Migration of swallows, 26, 33, 58 ; 
of birds, 33, 35, 57, 6 1, 71, 102, 
in, 1 13, .1 18, 121, 407 ; of 
chaffinches, 34 ; of birds, affected 
by the season, 113. 

Migration, a large, 57; "home," 
118; at Gibraltar, 122. 

Miller's thumb, 29. 

Missel thrush (see Thrush, missel); 
bird, 85. 

Mist, called London smoke, 446 ; 
sulphurous, 254. 

Moisture, effect of, on trees, 

Moles, eaten by weasels, 88 j 
cricket, 217. 

Monasteries, effect of, 283 ; de- 
generation of, 315. 

Monogamous birds, 71. 

Monographs, merits of, 74, 115. 

Monument to Gilbert White, 268; 
to Rev. W. Etty, 268. 

Moose deer, the, 69, 76 ; food of, 
69; swimming in breeding time, 


Mordaunt, Mr., 24. 

Mosquitoes, 135. 

Motacilla trochilus, 27 ; three kinds 
of, 27, 49 ; atricapilla (see black- 
cap); salicaria (see Willow-wren). 

Mother marking, 188. 

Mountains, 141. 

Mouse, 36; harvest, 27; new kind, 
27, 31, 40; burrowing, 36; 
large, 36; house, 36; red, dogs 
eating, 88; common, cats eating, 
88 ; shrew, 174; field (see Field 

Movements of animals and birds, 
various, 202, 419. 

Mud inguana, 45. 

Mus amphibius, 27; minimus (new 
kind of mouse), 40 ; domestic** 
medlus (Ray) 3 1 . 

Muscae (flies), 401, 432. 

Musca putris (see Bacon-fly) ; chamoe- 
leon, 79. 

Music, influence of, 232. ^ / 

Muste/inum, 38. 

Mytilus, the, 8 ; fossil, at Selborne, 

Naturalist's Calendar, 387. 
Naturalist's summer evening walk, 


Nautilus, fossil, 9. 
Nests of sand-martins, 418; mouse, 

3 1 ; rooks, 408 ; swallow on 

owl's body, 149. 
Newt, or water-eft, 45. 



Nidification of birds, 119, 131, 
152, 163, 231; house-martins, 
137, 231; sand-martins, 152; 
chaffinch, 231 ; wren, 231. 

Night, birds coming forth at, 23. 

Nightingale, 1 23 ; migration of, 
123 ; note of, 87, 125. 

Nocturnal birds, 237. 

Nore hill, 4, 209. 

Nose-fly, 431. 

Nostrils of antelope, 37. 

Notes of birds, 27, 34, 41, 103, 
204; willow wren, 41; grass- 
hopper lark, 41 ; willow lark, 

Noxious insects, 79. 

Nun, 92. 

Nuthatch, 42, 231, 387; eating 
nuts, 232. 

Nuts opened differently by nut- 
hatch, squirrel, and field-mice, 

Nymphaea (water-lily), 69. 

Oak, large in the Plestor, 6, 288; 

in Losels wood, 7 ; peculiar, 6, 

7; bog, 16. 
Oakhanger, 12, 21. 
Oaks of Temple, 5; in Wolmer 

forest, 25. 
Oedicnemus (see Stone curlew), 

Oil as a remedy for snake-bites, 


Oestrus bovis (bot-fly), causing in- 
jury to cattle, 79,416,431. 

Oestrus curvicanda, 396. 

Opht-ys ipiralis (see Ladies' Traces) ; 
nidus avis (see Birds' nest ophrys). 

Opposite golden saxifrage, 200, 

39 1 - 

Oro pendoks, 121. 
Osprey, 84. 
Ostrich, the, no. 
Otis (bustard), 107. 
Otter, killed near Selborne, 72. 
Ouzel, ring (see Ring-ouzel); water 

(see Water-ouzel). 

Owl, barn (see Owl, white); brown, 
casting up fur and feathers, 29, 
1 34 ; food of, 29 ; hooting of, 
1 24 ; nest of swallow on an, 
149 ; eagle, 65 ; fern (see Goat- 
sucker) ; white, 133 ; young of, 
29; food of, 29, 133; attacking 
dovehouse, 71 ; screech of, 134. 

Owls, pellets cast up by, 29, 134 ; 
hoot in different keys, 1 24 ; ears 
of, 135 ; eyes of, 135 ; flight of, 


Oxen congregating together, 166. 

Oxford, Guernsey lizards at Pem- 
broke College, 57; swallows late 
at, 30, 58. 

Pairing of birds, 7 1 . 

Palm Sunday, yew trees carried on, 

2 73- 

Palumbus torquatus (see Ring dove). 

Paradise Mede, Selborne, 341. 

Parasitic insects, 135; of martins, 
135, 140, 223. 

Paris quadrifoha (herb Paris true- 
love or oneberry), 200. 

Partridges, 12, 425; pairing of, 
72 ; killed by frost, 247 ; instinct 
of, 410. 

Parus caeruleus (blue titmouse or 
wren), 92, 389 ; fringillagus or 
major (blackhead titmouse), 92, 
387 ; ater (cole-mouse), 92 ; 
palustris (marsh titmouse), 92, 

Passer, arundinaceus minor (see Reed 

sparrow); torquatus (see Reed 


Passeres, note of, 205. 
Peacock, tails of, 80. 
Peat, 1 6, 19. 
Pectines in freestone, 9. 
Perch, 22. 

Peregrine falcon, 234. 
Periwinkle, lesser, 200, 391. 
Pettichaps (chiff-chaff), 233. 
Pews in Selborne Church, 265. 
Phalaena (gnats), 67, 416, 429. 


Phalaena quercus, 429. 

Pheasants, 1 2 ; pursued by hen 
harrier, 412. 

Pheasant, hybrid, 410. 

Phryganea (see Caddis-fly). 

Pigeon, wood (see Woodpigeon) ; 
drinking, 89 ; blue rock, 96. 

Pigs, eating their young, 132 ; 
length of life in, 182; eating 
yewberries without injury, 271. 

Pine plantations, near Glasgow, 94. 

Pitanciae, 307. 

Planting evergreens, 243. 

Plants, at Selborne, 199 ; suffer 
from heat and cold, 241, 249. 

Plestor, the, 6, 288 ; great oak in, 

Plover, 219. 

Plowman, Piers, 316. 

Plumpton Plain, 141. 

Poaching at night, 19, 24. 

Poll sheep, 142. 

Pollard-ash, children cured of 
rupture by, 1 74 ; in the Plestor, 

Ponds, on chalkhills, 177. 

Pope Martin confiscates property 
of Selborne Priory, 314. 

Poplar, Lombardy, 439. 

Portugal laurels, 243. 

Poultry, 206 ; their notes and lan- 
guage, 409 ; roosting places of, 
409 ; destroying a hawk, 206, 

Prayers for the dead, 288, 299, 3 39, 

Preceptores, meaning of, 298. 

Prior, election of a, 301, 319,321, 

Priors of Selborne, list of, 331. 

Priories, alien, 282. 

Priory of Selborne, in debt, 
310; property of, 314; seques- 
trated, 314, 320; reduced to a 
chantry, 340. 

Prophecy of Piers Plowman, 316. 

Ptinus Pectinicornis, 407, 426. 

Puckeridge (see Fern-owl). 

Puffins, 53; breed on flat ground, 


Pulex vritans (bed-flea), 153. 

Punishment of canons for misbe- 
haviour, 309. 

Puritanism at Selborne, 275. 

Purlieus, 22. 

Quails, 12, 35. 
Queen's bank, 17. 
Quicksilver mines, men working 
in, 113. 

Rabbits, in Wolmer Forest, 19 ; 
make the best turf, 422. 

Rainfall at Selborne, 12, 56, 239 ; 
in Rutland, 120, 244; effect of 
trees on, 1 76 ; compared with 
Plymouth, 239. 

Rana arborea (tree-frog), 44. 

Rats, water, two kinds, 27. 

Ravens, building in the Plestor 
oak, 7 ; close sitting of, 7 ; driv- 
ing vultures from their nests, 

Redbreast, 108, no; tame, singing 
by candlelight, 108 ; song of, 
88 ; autumn songster, 88 ; food 
of, 89, 92. 

Red deer, 1 7 ; in Wolmer Forest, 
1 7 ; never seen in Holt Forest, 

Redstart, 29, 41, 143 ; arrival of, 
407 ; motion of tail of, 88 ; song 
of, 90. 

Redwing, 26; feeding in winter, 
407 ; not breeding in England, 
119; migration of, 125; killed 
by frost, 242. 

Reed-bunting, 113. 

Reed-sparrow, 66, 1 1 1, 113; food 
of, 113; song of, 1 1 4. 

Reed- wren, 63. 

Regulits non cristatus (see Willow- 

Relics of Selborne priory, 317. 

Reptiles, stinking se defendendo, 



Ring-dove, 96, 109, 123 ; food of, 
109, 412 ; nidification of, 163. 

Ring-ouzel, 32, 36, 50, 53, 59, 65, 
74, 123, 144; migration of, 51, 
53, 59,62,65,74,83,117; food 
of, 51, 59; breeding places in 
England, 85. 

Roads, at Selborne, new, made by 
Gilbert White, 277. 

Roche, Peter de la, or de Rupibus, 
founds Selborne priory, 278 ; 
Bishop of Winchester, 278. 

Rocks removed by rain, 254. 

Roman remains found at Selborne, 
23, 260. 

Romulus and Remus, 1 84. 

Roofs of houses, various, 341. 

Rooks, 144, 237; nesting of, 388, 
408; white, 38; power of smell 
in, 127; frozen, 446. 

Royal forests, origin of, 262. 

Royston crow, 123. 

Rupert, Prince, 24. 

Ruptured children placed in pol- 
lard ashes, 174. 

Rush candles, 1 69 ; to make, 1 70. 

Rutland, fall of rain in, 120, 244. 

Saffron, 201. 

Salad oil as a cure for viper's sting, 


Salamandra aquatica (water-newt, or 
eft), 45. 

Saficaria, 39, 59, 63 ; fen (reed- 
wren), 63, 66. 

Sallad or Sallet, 191. 

Salmo-fario (trout), 39. 

Salt meat causing leprosy, 189. 

Sambucus ebulus (dwarf elder), 201, 

39 8 - 

Sand-martins (see Martins, Sand) ; 

sand-pits in Wolmer forest, 152. 
Sandpiper, 50. 

Saxon words, meaning of, 261. 
Scallops, 9. 
Scarabaeussohtltialis (see Fernchafers) 

397; melolontha, 393, 41 7 ; fullo, 


Scopoli, Dr., 74, 76, 113, 115. 

Scotland, maps of, 94. 

Sea-birds, 29. 

Seal of Gurdon, 293. 

Sedge-bird, 63 ; note of, 63, 108 ; 
singing at night, 87. 

Selborne Parish, 3 ; village, 4 ; soil 
of, 4, 5 ; streams in, 4 ; fossils 
at, 8 ; extent of, 12; cottages 
in, salubrity of, 1 2 ; fall of rain 
in, 12, 56, 239; occupation of, 
14; population, 13; in Saxon 
times, 260; value of the living, 
273; vicar of, before Domesday 
Book, 274. 

Selborne Priory, property of, 289, 
314; decay of, 333, 337, 340, 
347 ; rivulet, 343 ; account of, 
344; ruins of, 348; importance 

of, 351- 

Serpents (see Snakes). 
Sex of birds, 1 14. 
Sexes, distinguishing features of the, 

114; separation of, during win- 
ter, 1 1 8. 

Shearing sheep, 422. 
Sheep, feeding before rain, 126; of 

Sussex, 142; congregating, 167. 
Shingles on roof, 270. 
Short-winged birds of passage, 33, 

42, 407. 
Shrew, water, 66; ash, 174 ; mouse, 


Shrikes (butcher-bird), 50, 85. 
Silk-wood, 171; tail, German, 32; 

worm, intestines of, used for 

fishing tackle, 56. 
Silver fish, 227. 
Sitta Europoea (see Nuthatch) 
Skunk, 64. 
Skylark (see lark). 
Slugs, 435; injurious to wheat, 


Smell, animals recognised by, 422. 
Smoky atmosphere, cause of, 239. 
Smother flies, 226, 251. 
Snails, 222, 435 ; shells eaten by 

birds, 411. 



Snakes (see also Vipers), 435 ; feed- 
ing once a year, 46 ; English, 
45 ; stink, 64 ; tame, 64 ; eggs 
of, 45. 

Snipes, 27, 42 ; in Wolmer Forest, 
1 6, 86; make no nest, 418; 
stomach of, 108. 

Snowflake, 39, 65 ; storms, 241, 

Sociality of animals, 166; of dif- 
ferent natures, 183. 

Soft-billed birds, migration of, 36, 
1 01 ; non-migratory, list of, 
101 ; food of, 91. 

Soil, curious, 5 ; good for timber, 
5 ; Wolmer and Holt Forests, 
24; chalky and sandy, subject 
to heat, 251. 

Solstice, summer and winter, 208. 

Song-birds, 104, 105, 107, no; 
migration of, 100, 118; non- 
migratory, 1 01 ; night, 103 ; list 
of, 104 ; loss of voice in, 112. 

Song of thrush, 88 ; of blackbird, 
88 ; of willow wren, 88 ; wood 
lark, 88. 

Sounds, association of, 214. 

Sow, 25; fecundity of the, 182; 
age of, 182. 

Spain, birds migrating to, 35. 

Spaniels, 236. 

Sparrow hawk, 88, 95 ; hedge, 91 ; 
flight of, 88 ; food of, 91 ; house, 
71; cleaning themselves, 116; 
taking sand-martin's nest, 154; 
nidification of, 88. 

Speckled diver, 413. 

Sphynx ocellata, 430. 

Spiders, making gossamer webs, 
165; flying, 165. 

Spindle trees, 89. 

Spiracula of fallow deer, 37. 

Sporting, inherent in mankind, 18, 
306; dogs, training of, 236. 

Spring, black, 448. 

Sprout-cale, February so called by 
Saxons, 190. 

Spurge laurel, 200, 391. 

Squirrel, suckled by a cat, 423; 

eating nuts, 231. 
Stag, nostrils of, 37. 
Stag-hunt in Wolmer Forest, 17, 

4 2 3. 

Stealing deer, 1 8. 
Stickleback, 29, 47. 
Stilt plover, 219. 
Stockdove (see Wood-pigeon). 
Stonechat, 86, 117. 
Stone, free, 4, 5, 9. 
Stone curlew, 40, 77, 237, 415; 

food of, 77 ; note of, 237, 415 ; 

migration of, 77 ; makes no nest, 

77', eggs of, 40; flight of, 78. 
Stonehenge, daws breeding at, 53. 
Stone, sand, 10; rag, 9; yellow, 

i o; coffin lids in Sel borne Church, 


Stones swallowed by birds, 80. 
Stoparola (fly-catcher), 41, 393, 

402, 407. 
ISro/o-y?) of animals and birds, 130, 

148, 161. 
Storm-cock, 85. 
Strangers elected to Selborne Priory, 

Stratford, Bishop of Winchester, 


Stubble burning, 20. 
Stype alias Stepe, Prior, 317, 319. 
Summer birds of passage, 100; 

short-winged, 76, 117, 143,407 ; 

list of, 42, 100; soft-billed, 121. 
Sun, red, 252. 
Sunbury-on-Thames, 36. 
Sun dew, round leaved, 200, 399. 
Sussex downs, 117, 141. 
Swallows, 145, 150, 222; young, 

appearance of, 26 ; late hatchings 

of, 26; hybernation of, 26, 33, 

121, 128, 145, 222, 233, 419; 

drink flying, 148 ; flocks of, 32, 
419 ; on the Thames, 32, 36; 
late, 33, 67, 148 ; migration of, 
33, 57, 82, 162, 419 ; congrega- 
tion of, 57, 420 ; late, at Oxford, 
58; house, 57, 145, 162; in- 



crease of, 108 ; and frosts, 112, 
113; feeding young on the wing, 
75 ; and swifts, supposed rivalry 
between, 115; late, 128; food 
of, 148; lice of, 135; washing 
while flying, 85, 148 ; early, 
145 ; nidification of, 145; eggs 
of, 1 46 ; song of, 1 48 ; tail of, 
87, 148; and hawks, 158; 
appearance of, 162; appearing 
in hot weather, 186; chimney 
(see Swallow, house) fond of 
water, 233. 

Swans, 88 ; migration of, 122. 

Sweden, birds of, 90. 

Swifts, hybernation of, 26; early 
migration of, 66, 159; great 
white-bellied, 77, 160; note of, 
125, 160; staying late, 82; ap- 
pearance of, 86; or black martin, 
155; nidification of, 155; pro- 
pagation of, 159; food of, 157, 
158, 161; and hawks, 158; 
young of, 158, 161; colour of, 

159 ; fleas of, 160, 223 ; feet of, 

1 60 ; in London, 1 60 ; similar 
to cuckoo in formation, 180; 
pairing every year in same num- 
ber, 195; late breeding, 223; 
late departure of, 224. 

Sycamore, 439. 

Sylvia loquax, lesser willow wren, 
49 ; trochilus, larger willow 
wren, 49 ; curruca, lesser white 
throat, 233. 

Tadpoles, 44. 
Tails, of woodpecker, 203. 
Tameness, natural, of birds, 84, 107. 
Taming of animals, etc., 54. 
Tanners' Wood, 342. 
Tanyard at Selborne Priory, 342. 
Teals, 23, 29, 86, 133. 
Tench, 22. 

" Tenpenny nails in the walls," 1 1. 
Thames, frozen over, 246. 
Thaws, 246, 445 ; caused by 
underground vapours, 242. 

Thermometers, use of, 249. 

Thrush, the, 39 ; food of, 39, 408 ; 
nidification of, 409 ; killed by 
frost, 247. 

Thrush, missel, 32; fierceness of, 
163; fight with a magpie, 163 ; 
food of, 409. 

Thunderstorms, rarity of, at Sel- 
borne, 253. 

Tiles first used for roofs, 341. 

Timber, good soil for, 5 ; in Holt 
Forest, 24 ; chestnut, 440. 

Tipula (Long-legs), 185, 433. 

Titlark, or tree-pipit, 107, 117; 
feeding in winter, 407 ; singing, 
85 ; at night, 108. 

Titmouse, song of, 89 ; great, 89 ; 
food of, 92 ; bill of, 92 ; blue, 
92 ; great blackheaded, 92 ; 
long-tailed, 92; marsh, 92; 
pulling straws from eaves, 92, 

Toads, breeding of, 43 ; venom of, 
43 ; tame, 44, 54 ; man swallow- 
ing a, 44; as a cure for cancer, 

48, 53- 
Tombs in Selborne Church, 265, 


Toothwort, 200, 393. 
Tortoise, land, 117, 130, 221; 

hybernation of, 117, 130, 144, 

1 86, 221; food of, 1 1 7 ; age of, 

1 1 8 ; feeding before rain, 1 29 ; 

instinct of, 352. 
Travelling mountains, 209. 
Tree beetles, 124. 
Trees, order of losing their leaves, 

43 7 j size and growth, 437; 

flowing of sap, 438. 
Trees and forests, effect of, on 

rainfall, 1 76 ; perfect alembics, 

175; killed by frost, 243, 249; 

in churchyards, 273. 
Tringa hypoleucus(see Sandpiper), 50. 
Trotton Church, 390. 
Trout (trutta fluviatilis), 29. 
Truffles, 201, 443. 
Tunbridge, 343. 



Turdus torquatus (see Ring ouzel) ; 

pilaris (see Fieldfare). 
Turnip fly, 79. 
Tutsan, or St. John's wort, 200, 


Upupa (Hoopoe), 29. 

Vaccinium oxycoccos (cranberry), 1 99 ; 

myrtillus (bilberry), 398, 200. 
Vase found at Selborne Priory, 


Vegetables as a diet, 190. 
Vegetation, laws of, 197. 
Verdure of trees, late, 123. 
Vespertilio murinus (bat), 30; auritus 

(long-eared bat), 30 ; altivolans 

(large-bat), 81. 
Vine, diseases of, 224.; parasite of 

the, 224. 

Vicarage at Selborne, 270. 
Vicars of Selborne, list of, 274. 
Vinago (cow pigeon), 96. 
Vinca minor (lesser periwinkle), 200, 

39 1 - 

Vipers, breeding, 43, 45, 180, 389; 
oil as remedy for poison of, 45 j 
eggs of, 46 ; food of, 46 ; in the 
water, 46 ; swallowing their 
young, 46, 1 8 1 ; young of, 1 80. 

Virgil's description of bees, 86, 
193; swallows, 145; echo, 193. 

Visitation of Bishop of Winchester, 


Visitatio Notabilis, the, 303, et sec. 
Vitrified stone, 9. 
Volcano in Norway, 252. 
Vultures, 121, 236; and dogs 

associating, 236. 

Wagtails, white, 35, 86, 91, 420 ; 
motion of tail of, 88 ; food of, 
91 ; grey, 420; yellow, 35. 

Waldon lodge, 20. 

Waltham blacks, 17, 18. 

Walwort, 201, 398. 

War between England and France, 

Warbler, grasshopper ; sedge (set 
Willow wren). 

Wasps, 251; nests, 407, 43 1 . 

Water, hard and soft, 5. 

Water-fowl, 23; rat, 27, 66; ouzel, 

Water at Selborne, 5. 

Water-ouzel, 1 16. 

Water, cattle frequenting, 22; efts, 
45, 48 ; snake, 46 ; efts spawn 
in, 48 ; fowl, wings and feet of, 
414 ; rat, 66; shrew mouse, 66; 
distilled from trees, 175; con- 
densed by fogs, etc., 178. 

Waxwing (see Silk-tail). 

Weasel, 38, 88. 

Weather, the, 71, 150, 163, 164, 
186, 210, 240, 251, 447; in- 
fluencing migration of birds, 
119, 125; at Plymouth, 238. 

Weaver's Down, 1 1 . 

Well-head, 4. 

Well, lizard found in, 51. 

Wells, depth of, in Selborne, 5. 

Wey river, the, 5, 25. 

Wheatear, 35, 86, 117, 143, 144; 
food of, 93 ; does not always 
migrate, 35. 

Wheat crops, 443 ; bread, use of, 
151, 189. 

Whinchat, 86, 117, 144 ; food of, 


White malm, 5 ; rooks, 38, 39 ; 

larks, 65 ; hares, 65. 
White's Calendar, 387. 
Whitethroat, 29, 71,89, 109, no, 

117, 143 ; note of, 89. 
Widgeon, 23, 29. 
Whortle, or bilberry, 200, 398. 
Wild boars in Wolmer Forest, 25; 

fowls, 29, 133 ; geese, breeding 

of, 66 ; ducks, 133. 
Willow lark, 49, 59 ; note of, 63, 


Willow-wren, 42,49, 71, 132, 233. 
Willoughby, Mr., 36. 
Winchester Cathedral, rebuilt, 264. 
Windhover (see Kestrel). 



Wings of birds hollow, 203 ; placed 
too forward, 2*04 ; backward, 

Winter birds of passage, list of, 

Witches, 174. 

Wolmer Forest, 5, 15, 290; stone 
found in, I o ; fossil wood found 
in, 1 6 ; wild-fowl in, 1 6 ; game 
in, 17; Queen Anne in, 17; 
limits of, 21 ; scarcity of trees 
in, 22 ; leased by the crown, 
24 ; soil of, 24 ; boars and buffa- 
loes in, 25 ; when formed, 262; 
Sir A. Gurdon, cusfos of, 290. 

Wolmer Lake, 22 ; coins found 
in, 23. 

Wolvemere (see Wolmer Lake). 

Woodcocks, 12 ; stomach of, 108; 
carrying their young, 75 ; breed- 
ing in England, 119; in Austria, 
1 20 ; migration at night, 1 22 ; 
occasional sluggishness of, 122, 

Woodpecker, spotted, 42 ; flight 
of, 203. 

Woodpigeon, 96, 97, 123 ; migra- 
tion of, 85, 97, 123; wild, 96; 
food ofj 97. 

Wood, fossil, 16; lark, no; song 
of, 88. 

Worms, earth, 184; use of, 184, 
434; hermaphrodites, 185; 
blind (see Blind worm). 

Wornils (maggots), 416. 

Wren, 107, 110; golden-crested, 
43 ; lameness of, 107 ; song of, 
89 ; food ofj 91 ; willow, 49. 

Wryneck, 91, 100, 390, 421. 

Wych elms, 6 ; hazel, 6. 

Wykeham, William of, 152; re- 
building Winchester Cathedral, 
264; Bishop of Winchester, 
visitation of, 303 ; character of, 

Wynchester, John, elected as Prior, 

Yellowhammer, 107 ; song of, 1 10. 
Yellow wort, 200, 399. 
Yew tree, birds feeding on, 32 ; 
ancient in Selborne Churchyard, 

271 ; berries fatal to animals, 

272 ; leaves of, very injurious 
to cattle, 272 ; difference be- 
tween males and females, 271 ; 
not injurious to sheep and tur- 
keys, 272. 





A Series of Reprints of Standard Works 
in Library form 

Demy 8vo. Cloth Elegant. Price $s. 6d. net per Volume 

Bacon's Essays ; Colours of Good and Evil 1900 

and Advancement of Learning, I vol. Ready 

Sheridan's Plays, i vol. Ready 

Malory's Morte D' Arthur, 2 vols. Ready 
Sterne's Tristram Shandy and Sentimental 

Journey, 2 vols. Ready 

Boswell's Life of Johnson, 3 vols. Ready 

Carlyle's French Revolution, 2 vols. Ready 

Fielding's Tom Jones, 2 vols. Ready 

White's Natural History of Selborne, i vol. Ready 
Travels of Sir John Mandeville, with Illustrative 

Narratives from Hakluyt, I vol. Ready 

Lockhart's Life of Scott, vols. i and 2 Aug. 

Lockhart's Life of Scott, vols. 3, 4, and 5 Sept. 

Don Quixote translated by Shelton, 3 vols. Oct. 

Walton's Lives and Complete Angler, i vol. Nov. 
De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium 
Eater ; Murder as a Fine Art ; The English 

Mail Coach, and other Essays, i vol. Nov. 

University of California, San Diego 


APR 2 V 1976 

*nft 8 RFfTD 



UCSD Libr.